Many of us know what it is to write alone for years, to have your friends and family feign interest and literary magazines send itty-bitty rejection letters. Sometimes knowing there is someone out in the world willing to take your work seriously makes all the difference. Writing is a hard road, and we hope sharing your work with fellow alumni will improve your work.
Frankly, if all you get out of this peer exchange is writing more, then it is a success. We also hope you will learn more about how to respond to another writer’s work—which is essential training for a writer.
Writer2Writer is not meant to be a casual thing. Participants should be motivated and committed to writing and responding to others over an entire semester.
If that all sounds good to you, please sign up!
$60 per semester for four peer-to-peer packets over the course of a semester
There will be four packets on a semester system.
|Spring||Registration is open from December 15 – January 5|
|Packet Schedule: Feb. 1, March 1, April 1, May 1|
|Fall||Registration is open from July 15 – August 10|
|Packet Schedule: Sept. 1, Oct. 1, Nov. 1, Dec. 1|
Andrew Marshall, ’12 W
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 for Writing grads or by Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult for WCYA grads.
We pair writers 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
- Spring: February 1, March 1, April 1, May 1
And what is the commitment?
- Ultimately, you are committing to writing four packets.
- 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.
- You must 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 may send up to four.
- 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. Peer Response Guidelines will be provided.
Unlike VCFA’s MFA programs, 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. The maximum page count guideline for Picture Book is 10 pages per packet. For Middle Grade and Young Adult, the maximum is 25 pages per packet. 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 and respond honestly and thoroughly then you will do well. As a peer advisor, you should 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 (10 days at the latest). 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 VCFA Writing alumni (Liz Blood – CNF, Ian Bodkin – poetry, and Andrew Marshall – fiction) and VCFA WCYA alumni who will use surveys to pair people based on the kind of work they are writing and who inspires them.
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 about 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 $60 for four packets.
This is largely an administrative fee. The balance will go into the MFA in Writing and MFA in WCYA scholarship funds.
What if I am working on a book and need a longer commitment?
One of the survey questions asks if participants are willing to read a novel or book and therefore willing to commit 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 reviewer read it. If that’s what you want, Writer2Writer is not right for you. Please remember that 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 someone who has much more. You may be paired up with someone who has trouble complimenting…or being critical. So, if you’re having these kinds 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, a simple email mediation can make all well.
What if I can’t continue mid-semester?
There all kinds of problems, and we understand that they come up. If something happens and you cannot continue, then contact Writer2Writer Coordinator Andrew Marshall ([email protected]) ASAP.
Can I cross genres?
Basically, for right now, if you write poetry, you read poetry. And so forth. If you’ve never written a short story (or, conversely, 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 provided exclusively to alumni of Vermont College of Fine Arts. Current VCFA students need to wait until they have graduated.