New series: MFA myths and tips

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my experience in getting my MFA in creative writing. (Okay, when I say “a lot of people,” it’s mostly creative writing undergraduates and the people in my life with regular jobs who had to listen to me complain when I was in graduate school. I think they wonder how much of what I said was true, and what was said in a sleep-deprived, overly creative haze). Seriously, though, it’s a big decision to commit two years or more of your life and possibly thousands of dollars to a venture with an unclear or uncertain outcome. As a result of our still-problematic economy, more and more people consider graduate programs as a way of increasing their marketability, while at the same time giving them something productive to do until the job prospects (hopefully? someday?) improve.

But MFA programs are different than most graduate programs in many ways, especially in the intensely personal nature of the work. Also, there are many more uncertainties involved. If you get an advanced degree in engineering, for example, you’re going to learn a certain skill set that applies directly to one field. With any creative writing program, the curriculum differs much more widely. Additionally, one question always lingers: can you actually teach someone to be a better writer?

All of the issues and questions above are the inspiration for a new series of blogs that I will begin this month: MFA myths and tips. I’ll share my perspectives on graduate programs and creative writing in academia, both as an alumna and now as a writer and instructor of writing. I would also love to answer questions that anyone has, so feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.