Writer2Writer Writing FAQ

Below are basic questions and answers for Writer2Writer, the post graduation way to keep your writing going.

What exactly is Writer2Writer?

This is a post graduation one-on-one peer review. The concept is simple. For people who are interested, we have set up a peer-to-peer packet system, much like we did with our VCFA advisors, by Fiction, Poetry and CNF.

We pair writers—fiction, poetry and CNF—into a chained work swap (i.e., a writer will not have his or her work reviewed by the writer he or she is reading).

We will exchange four packets on a semester basis.

  • Fall: September 1, October 1, November 1, and December 1
  • Winter: February 1, March 1, April 1, May 1

And what is the commitment?

  1. Ultimately, you are committing to writing four packets.
  2. However, you are also committing to being an engaged reader. If you only want to sign up for Writer2Writer to be read, you are not enlisting in the spirit of the exchange.
  3. The deal is you have to be willing to read and respond thoroughly to four packets a semester. If you choose to write three or even two, that’s your choice. The point is, if you choose to send less work, you’re still committed to another writer who wants to send up to four.
  4. Each peer advisor must be willing to read and write a thorough letter in response to the work sent. Also, they should be willing to track changes on the packet documents so small notations can be made. A Peer Response Guideline will be provided.

Unlike VCFA, we will not have reading lists or critical writing expectations.

What is the guideline for how much work can be sent per packet?

The general page count guideline for Fiction and CNF is 20-25 pages maximum. For Poetry, 6-8 poems, no more than 10-12 pages. Naturally, each alumni pair can modify the above, but both must agree. Please feel free to say no if your writer wants you to read more than the guideline.

What if I am not sure I can be a good peer advisor? Or what if my peer advisor isn’t helpful enough?

While you may not possess all the critical abilities of your VCFA advisors, if you are willing to read closely, respond honestly and thoroughly then you will do well. As a peer advisor, you want to be thorough, committed, and timely with your response, so your writer knows they are sending to someone who cares–someone who is eager to be a recipient of his or her work.

That said, please understand Writer2Writer cannot guarantee the level of critique you may receive on a monthly basis. Please do not expect your peer reviewer to take you to the next level of your writing; that is your job. However, in previous semesters, many people had that experience, but the bottom line is your expectation should be an honest and thorough response.

How is work sent and how or why does everyone have the same due date?

Everyone has the same due date (the first of each month), so you are reading and responding to your writer's packet just after you sent your packet off. We ask everyone to aim to respond to their writer’s packet within one week (at the latest ten days). Ideally, soon after you respond to your writer’s work, you will receive the response from your peer advisor so you can get back to work.

Everything is handled through email.

How are people paired?

We have a CNF person (Liz Blood), a poetry person (Ian Bodkin) and a fiction person (Andrew Marshall) who will use surveys to pair people based off the kind of work they are writing and who they are inspired by.

While this process will not always be perfect, in real life we cannot ever count on finding the perfect reader either. In most cases, it is not who reads you, but how much the person who reads you is willing to give.

What is the fee? Where does the fee go?

The semester fee is $50 for four packets.

This is largely an administrative fee. The balance will go into the MFA in Writing Scholarship Fund.

What if I am working on book and need a longer commitment?

One of the questions on the survey will ask if participants are willing to read a novel or book and therefore be willing to commit to two or three semesters to a project. If we can pair someone willing to do this with a writer working on a longer project, then we certainly will.

However, we cannot guarantee this person will continue to sign up for the next semesters.

A frequent request is that a writer wants to hand over a full length novel or book and just have their peer review read it. If that’s what you want, Writer2Writer is not right for you. Please remember each participant is another writer focused on their own projects. So while you and your reader can negotiate to each of your specific needs, please try to be understanding of this.

What if I am having difficulty with the person who is my peer advisor?

If you sign up for Writer2Writer, please understand that not everyone is a professional writer, and that we are all still learning. As we said above, we cannot guarantee the level of critique you may receive on a monthly basis. You may be paired up with someone who has less experience writing than you do. You may find yourself reading somehow who has much more. You may be paired up with someone who has trouble complimenting…or being critical. So, if you’re having these kind of difficulties, please try to work with that person. Try to communicate your needs. Ask specific questions about your work.

And remember, the most important benefit out this process is that you keep writing, every month.

However, if this doesn’t work, please contact the Writer2Writer Coordinator, Andrew Marshall at [email protected] Often times, a simple email mediation can make all well!

What if I can't continue mid-semester?

There all kinds of problems and they are waiting for you. If something happens and you cannot continue, then contact the Writer2Writer Coordinator, Andrew ASAP.

Can I cross genres?

Basically, for right now, if you write poetry, you read poetry. And so forth.

However, if you've never written a short story (or in the reverse order, a poem) before, then keep in mind this is a post MFA group. If you want to take up a new genre, this might not be the best place to be a beginner.

That said, this is something we're going to trust individuals to determine. If your MFA is in Fiction, but you’re becoming proficient in poetry or CNF then feel free to sign up.

Can I invite non-VCFA friends to do this?

This service is being provided exclusively to alumni of Vermont College of Fine Arts. Current VCFA students need to wait until they have graduated.

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Ann Cardinal

Alumni Relations Coordinator
Email: [email protected]