Monday, December 16, 2013

In Which I Read As A Writer

My MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults starts on January 9th. Or at least that's when my first residency starts anyway.

The residency is where everyone enrolled in the program travels to campus and spends 10 days work shopping and listening to readings and lectures by the faculty or visiting writers. We'll be assigned our mentors and then we'll work with them for the next 6 months until the next residency in the summer.

So yes, that's my actual start date for the MFA. But obviously I've been doing a lot of MFA work already. Mostly reading.

I've read about 50 of the 120 books I need to read by the end of my first year. We're supposed to have 40 done before our first residency so I'm a bit ahead of the game.

this picture would only be accurate if there was a lot more snow

Also the vast majority of my reading has been novels, which means the reading will just get easier as I go along and start to tackle the picture books and easy readers.

Well, not easier I guess. Just faster.

Because we're supposed to read the books critically, and write up 3 - 4 sentences regarding an element of craft.

And this is something that is often difficult for me. Especially if it's a book I like. If I don't like a book, it's easy for me to examine why I don't like it. But if I love a book, it's really hard for me not to be swept away.

I've got a few books on my list that I read that I didn't write anything about because I just didn't know what to say.

And sometimes I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over again. This book has a great voice. This one too. Ooh and this one.

But, I definitely think it's sinking in more. At the very least it's easier for me to get in the mindset of looking at a book critically.

Though I will add, it's a fresh breath of relief when I can read a book just for fun (even if some of the critical thinking slips in. Which, I suppose, is the point of it all)

What about you? Do you ever read critically? Is it easy for you? Or hard?)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you are ahead of the game.
It's hard for me to be critical of other books. My own, that's easy!

Anne Gallagher said...

Like you, if it's something I love, the critic takes a back seat. I had to do what you are doing now when I was in college and it was a challenge, but 3-4 sentences is a pretty good average. I don't think your professors want any more than that.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Sarah Foster said...

It's really hard for me to be critical of books. Even in college when reading other students' stories, I would sometimes find it difficult coming up with something constructive to say.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, sounds like you're doing great! And how cool to be in a program where so much of what you need to do is read books! Good luck with all this!

Catherine Stine said...

I know what you mean, but no doubt it'll get easier for you. And reading critically helps one organize and analyze one's own writing. Which can't hurt!

Maria Zannini said...

I try to only read critically when I'm critiquing work for others. And it does get easier. I find I focus less on the little stuff and more on the big picture.

I don't like to critique too often though. I find it makes it harder to read for enjoyment afterward.

Leandra Wallace said...

Definitely hard for me to read critical. I get too caught up in the story and forget what I'm supposed to be doing. =) Tho forgetting what I'm supposed to be doing is sort of an epidemic w/me...

Rita Rahima said...

essays online can be found at It is the more important for all of them. I am sure that your free reading and writing class will be beneficially for all of them because this class is more essential for all of them.

Ninja Girl said...

I'm with Alex, hard for me to get critical on other people's work (especially if it's great), but SO easy to find flaws in my own. I'm always questioning if something's good enough or if I should do it this way or that. And wow, 120 books! I hope there are some really wonderful reads in there :)
Ninja Girl

Jay Noel said...

It's tough to read critically when you're all sucked into the writer's world.

One way to stay grounded that works for me is to take notes as I read.

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