Order of the Good Write

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


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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?


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Super Bowl Soul Searching Pep Talk from a Coach…Writing Coach

Screenshot 2015-02-01 13.43.05It’s Super Bowl SUNDAY…Sunday…sunday….!!  (echo echo echo….)  And I’m giving a writer’s pep talk in the space of my own football locker room of the mind. Huddle around team.  This is my speech. I hope it inspires you to find your own inner talk of empowerment no matter what it pertains to. Here goes:

Don’t ever stop writing because you’re getting rejected by publishers. Remember – so many incredible books have been passed over – Anne Frank, JK Rollings, Golding, Orwell, Faulkner, the list goes on and one. They were all rejected, nonetheless, in time, they found someone who was willing to take a risk and publish them. Even the best of the best have been unceremoniously turned down.  Check out this interesting list of rejected classics. 

So, go all Nike on them and “Just Do It!”

But if you feel you don’t need the Big Man of publishing to get your book out there, consider self publishing! The process can be  empowering! I know. My book “Hitting Water” is out and I have this new sense of power, and I want to share my experience with people through coaching. (More on that to come in the coming months).  I’m still learning by fumbling and making mistakes. It’s practice to get out of the comfort zone and speak up about your work. Be real. Know about budgeting and marketing your work. Think big – expect small as you write and work on the outcome every day.  See what happens. But be prepared for the biz side. If you think your book will sell about $1000 worth of books, formulate your budget within those means. Don’t be dazzled by others who want to help you for thousands of dollars unless you’re already established and know you can recoup the financial output. Don’t spend more than you realistically think you can make back. There are affordable editors out there, who will edit and proof your book at a minimal cost. There are book designers, interior formatters and proofreaders who will clean up your work or give you opinions on how the book reads to a personal outside your head.

Team, I want to make this short since it’s almost game time. So, I’ll leave now with many more pep talks and suggestions to come. Keep the faith. Let the work flow and allow people to see it. “The Big Wherever” has a rich source naturally using you to bring a little heaven down to earth. Don’t block the flow. If you want (not “wish”…want) to create and put a defensive line of attack against the beauty –  you will be sad. And that’s a penalty. Flag on the play. Timeout. Re-think this. Open up and the clock will start, the game will resume.

I’m a baseball person myself, counting down the days to Pitchers and Catchers (18 days till NY Mets training camp in Port St. Lucie, FL!!! Let’s Go Mets!).  But I’ll say this….Seahawks 46 — Pats 21. My Boston Red Sox buddies will hate me for this.

Go forth and write! Celebrate your writing and how you can present it to world like it’s a half time celebration – Katy Perry and all!


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Inspiration in the Bleak Mid-Winter

martha graham dance“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It’s not your business to determine how good it is, not how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”~~Martha Graham