I've hinted a bit about this in recent posts, but now I'm finally able to gleefully announce:
I've been accepted at Vermont College for their dual-MFA in Non-Fiction and Children's Writing.
This is my 'big project' that had me writing and nervous and writing some more since last Fall. My original thought was to apply to low-residency MFA programs that had strong non-fiction faculty. I started with the local ones near Seattle, WA, then asked the advice of colleagues and friends at Western. I narrowed the field to three, one of which was Vermont College.
I admit that Children’s Writing wasn’t on my radar right away, but when I was looking into VC, I discovered that they had a dual MFA program option that would enable me to work on my memoir project(s) and look into children’s writing again. When I was in Hawaii in ‘97-’98, I was involved with SCBWI a bit - went to their conference and won second prize in their writing contest. I have a couple of picture book manuscripts that I’m going to be circulating as soon as I get a bit more research done on agents and publishers, and put together a decent query letter for each. I’d like to write YA historic novels, along the lines of Christopher Paul Curtis or even Sherman Alexie (although I haven’t read The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian yet to know for sure.) Picture books, though, are also a draw and I think I'll start with that first.
There’s a lot of Filipino American history not written about yet and with my focus on family relationships and empowerment/identity, I think there will be plenty of material to work with. I had the option to either start on the nonfiction track or the children’s and I opted for children’s as much because the opportunity was there to work on my current manuscripts as it was that I have found myself at various local SCBWI events. It seems obvious now that I am more drawn to children’s now than I realized, but it has taken me a bit to actually /realize/ it. It’s very gratifying, then that the opportunity was there for me to take.
I am a bit afraid of getting ‘locked in’ to a genre, but given my track record of publication in everything from trade magazines to poetry, plus a passion for performance storytelling, I doubt I will ’settle’ for anything else but a multigenre career ultimately. In the meantime, the MFA affords me the time (carved out of an already full life) and the mentorship I think I need to really move my writing to the next levels.
I've opened a new blog dedicated to just my adventures in the MFA journey: What If?. Feel free to drop by!