Monday, July 25, 2016

The Magic of VCFA.

I did something awesome for myself this summer. I started the Masters of Fine Arts program for Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

I've had many friends ask about my graduate school experience, so I thought I'd write a blog post.

Note: My photos capture the fun, social aspect of VCFA. It's not an accurate depiction. Lots of learning + self evaluation + being away from home = one crazy Veeda.

Back to the fun part.

Most students stay in the dorms. Eat in the school cafeteria. Yes, it's hard to share a hall bathroom. Yes, the food gets tiresome. Yes. Living in a dorm.

BUT . . . there is something invigorating about a casual hello to a classmate on your way to brush your teeth turning into twenty minutes of deep observation on a lecture that inspires you both. And you forget why you are holding a toothbrush and where the 2nd floor restroom is.

Eating in the same dining hall as everyone in the program was one of my highlights. Not necessarily the food, but the good company. The faculty and students all dine together and the informal setting leads to really good conversation.

Each class has a name. School pride in the dorm rooms, right here. 

I even sat at the same table with visiting writers April Pulley Sayre (so much poetry in her writing. In a nonfiction picture book about vultures!) and Maggie Stiefvater (super cool with her tarot card readings at lunch).

Bringing home these April Pulley Sayre books for my kids. 

Fan girling over Maggie Stiefvater. Her book, The Scorpio Races, brought back my love of horses. 

I appreciate how most people didn't bring up the publishing industry during residency. So often in writer's conferences, I feel like the first things you are asked are: Who's your agent? What books have you published? Are you even worth talking too?

Dinner in town with some of my classmates. I super heart them all.

I didn't feel this comparison at VCFA. There are several authors with books out and many more with agents. These milestones aren't the things that identify them. We are all at school to learn about writing. This similarity is bonding enough.

Montpelier, Vermont is straight up Stars Hallow.

There were times when my brain felt like it was going to exploded. Sooooo much thinking. I needed a mental break. I took several trips into town. It helps. Montpelier is charming and lovely and it's like walking into the world of the Gilmore Girls.

New England homes, you kill me.

Or possibly, a J.K. Rowling novel.

Leaving campus for ice cream always helps, too.

There was one point during my residency when I was feeling all the feels and thought I couldn't make it to another lecture, or face another person. I missed my family. What am I doing, so far away from my children? What am I doing, so far way from the writer I want to be?

I went back to my dorm room and did something I do to get me in better spirits back home. I turned the volume up on my phone, and had my own private dance party.

This song ALWAYS gets me going.

Yes, it really works. After five minutes and forty three seconds of shaking it off, I was out the door again. Speaking of dance parties, VCFA knows how to have a good one. Towards the end of our time, we have a dance to celebrate the graduating class.

DJ Yamile bringing down the house with visiting faculty DJ Daniel Jose Older.

Children's book writers are young at heart. We know how to dress up and get down, get down.

A Midsummer's Night Dream meets Steampunk, and it's a beautiful thing.

Even after the dancing hangover, the next day we are right back to work. Another highlight? The experiencing of finding out your upcoming semester advisor. The list is posted on a bulletin board in College Hall and it's one crazy exciting evening.

The sorting hat does it's magic.
During my ten days at VCFA, I:

- wrote a poem for the first time since 7th grade

- was inspired to be a voice for diversity in children's literature

- Started a writer's journal and didn't make it too precious to use

- believed in my voice


- made life long friends.

Thanks, VCFA. I'm so excited to be apart of this family.

Celebrating the completion of our 1st VCFA residency. Ice cream all around.


  1. Wonderful entry, Veeda! So glad you're part of VCFA now!

  2. You summed up the experience perfectly, Veeda!