I’ve completed the second (out of 5 total) residency at Spalding University. My experience this time was different than the last. At my last residency, I did most of the events with a small group of 610 students (meaning first semester) also in the Writing for Children and Young Adults (I just call it W4YA, since that is my main focus). Because of that, our small group experienced a nice bonding process from start to finish at the residency and then stayed in infrequent contact throughout the semester that followed. But because of the way the YA program is set up, YA students in 620 and 630 (second and third semester) must focus on a different concentration (meaning either Fiction, Poetry, CNF, or playwriting/screenwriting). The first few days of this residency, I felt a bit “orphaned” because the classmates I’d bonded with last semester were scattered about, and the other classification students were already bonded. It got better as it went on and I think Admin were alerted to the feelings (I wasn’t alone in my feelings, some of the others felt a bit orphaned as well) and are working to address those issues.
That’s one of the things I really like about the program: the administration seems genuinely interested in the experience of students, realizing that we’re all non-traditional students and our needs are a little different from the traditional 18 year old who comes to campus and lives there for the next few years. Not only that, the program is relatively new (2001, I think, was the first year) and thus it is only expected to have some growing pains. And honestly, I’m excited to be part of a growing group that has input to help make the program better.
So, if you’re wondering, I’m still 100% sold on the program and have no hesitation recommending it to anyone considering this sort of program. In fact, I recruited someone this past weekend who walked away leaving me with the impression that she was seriously considering Spalding low intensity MFA.
I’m also excited about my mentor this semester. Rachel Harper will be my mentor and I had a very good meeting with her prior to leaving residency. Yes, yes, I know it is her JOB, but she made me feel she was truly interested in reading the material I produce this semester and helping me create the best material “I” want to create and not what “she” wants…I can also say that not all writing programs are that way—many of them want you to fit into a mold. For what it’s worth, it is my plan to finish work on The Interns this semester. I’ve been talking it up to Kimberly, my agent, and I’m excited and ready to put it in her hands…but gotta finish it first!