Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Whither MFA? Redux

hannahgriThe writer’s conundrum rises again!  Should writers go for an MFA in Creative Writing?

I wrote about my own quandry a few months ago entitled, “Whither MFA?” –>https://orderofthegoodwrite.com/2015/03/12/whither-mfa/   I’d love to think the NYTimes (my former employer) read my blog, because their website has just published  an article about the subject  (Hey – a lady can dream.)

I’ve decided to say – “never say never” to an MFA. I’m always open. Yet, there have been many people in the writing world who’ve come to me and said they don’t know anyone with an MFA.  Needless to say, many men and women of words weigh the pros and cons of taking two years off from a paying job and sinking almost $50,000 to further improve and enrich their writing talent.

In the end – you have a nice piece of paper to frame on your wall and credentials to add luster to your qualifications as freelance writer or coach.

Then, there are others (like me – for now) who feel their fresh, yet sometimes wobbly ability to express their experiences and subversive concepts of life are enough.

I’m on the fence.  I’m open to both possibilities.  But right now I’d rather use my personal experience to express my stories. Let me lead by example to help other everyday people who love to write – write.

I’ve been through the wringer of after work Non-Fiction and creative writing classes. Late evening workshops were spent with aspiring essayists who wanted to be David Sedaris, ultimately reading their work on NPR.  Other writers just want to write a book about their family – to galvanize proof of their existence on this earth so their vital memories and experiences live on.

Read more literature, join book clubs, attend writing forums, participate in Goodreads boards where you analyze the basics of Jane Austin?  Yes!  That replenishes the font with good thought and practice.

I applaud the MFA in Creative Writing. I think it adds depth to the writing experience, allows you to think about the social aspects of your work and provides an intense connection with other writers and mentors who can boost your network and fortify your expression.

Yet, I believe you can do this yourself. Look around on Google and take a proactive approach. Volunteer at social groups. Be persistent with editors on your new ideas. Travel and explore different cultures. Join groups in person and online where you are provided with opportunities to lean forward and step into your own MFA of Writing.

The education of life can be the best diploma of all. And you can still go to your full time job and save about $50K.

Here’s that NYTimes article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/education/edlife/12edl-12mfa.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below&_r=0


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Whither MFA?

mastersdegreeSo my mind is crackling with ideas and plans for the future. As someone who loves the craft of writing and hopes to parlay it into a career as a writing coach (with some cool ideas up my sleeve), I’m considering entering a low residency program with the goal of earning an MFA in Creative Writing. (My research revealed a low residency is one where I can actually acquire a degree while keeping my job. Other MFA programs don’t do that.)

On one hand, there are many writers and coaches who’ve never gained an MFA in writing.  As a successful applicant, embarking on a campus with my new sneakers and fresh binder – my concern is that I’ll be thrown into a bevvy of workshops where everyone criticizes everyone’s work until you just want to throw your fresh binder out the window. Workshops are useful. Hell, I love them and hope to create a website with webinars and virtual writing workshops. Yet, if you’re not in group of supportive writers, their critiques can be unnecessarily scorching, damaging a writer’s ability, planting a constant voice of self doubt in one’s head. We’re a sensitive bunch, although we shouldn’t be. You’re always putting yourself out their in the written word, and not everyone is going to agree with your voice or style. You can’t take it personal. Yet, we  don’t need negative throwing stars hurled at our confidence.  Of course, we don’t accept coddling either.

There is also the competition of getting into these programs. I’m not interested in Iowa’s Writing Program. I know it’s prestigious, but it’s doubtful if I’ll ever get in, and if the thunder of god came crashing through my roof and I was accepted, I really don’t want to live in Iowa.  Yeah – I’m really into location. It rules my equilibrium. (I even felt sad for Hannah on “Girls” that she had to leave Brooklyn for the leafy world of IA. When she (**Spoiler Alert**) dropped out and returned home, seeing her riding in the back set of a NYC cab felt like a homecoming with butterflies in the belly).

So, I’m starting the inquiry. Should I try NYU?  The New School? UCLA? USC?  Local colleges that would be gentler and kinder to this old writer who is a late bloomer in the world of creative purpose?  We’ll see. So far, the schools I’ve mentioned have full time programs – something I cannot afford to do. I need my job right now. And having noticed this – I remembered why I didn’t go for a Masters earlier in my life. No job. Just school. Some have the funds to do it. I do not.

Is there anyone out there who has an MFA in writing?  If not – did you ever want to earn one?  It’s a writer’s big question for anyone who has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree.  Is higher learning after undergraduate work really worth the bother? Will people take you seriously in your field as a leader and doer if you don’t have this under your belt?

Whither MFA?