To MFA or not to MFA…?

After reading this special section from the October/November issue of Poets & Writers magazine, I find myself wrestling with the question of applying for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. One of my friends here has taken the bull by the horns and decided that at 33 or 34 that she is absolutely going to write a novel by the age of 35 and that an MFA program will help her achieve that goal. I applaud her ambition and her ability to make all sorts of other changes in her life recently, she’s a very inspiring person for me. 

That being said, I don’t know if my personality is one that responds well to constant goading. Having periods of rest helps me to reflect and re-orient what I’m working on. But maybe I’m limiting myself… perhaps under the scrutiny and enforced deadlines of the workshopping program of an MFA I would be able to achieve much more than I had thought possible? I also wonder if the reason I find myself considering the program is for some degree of personal validation. I think that if you want to be a writer though you’re just going to be one. A degree won’t make it so.

There are also two big sticking points that I’ve run into and that I have no clear answers for… time and money. The time factor is obvious… being someone who is thankfully still employed in an awful recession, easily well over 40 hours of my week is occupied with plain old, inflexible work. As much as I’d love to, at present I cannot reduce my hours down to part time to accomodate going to school or more writing. The local university here also serves up a double whammie by not offering too many evening classes for working folk.

Money is another consideration because in order to go to school at inconvenient times, I would need to change my job and possibly pull out more loans. I’ve still got a bad taste in my mouth (not to mention moths flying out of my wallet) from all of the debt from my undergrad degree.

Have you considered taking an MFA or other grad degree? What considerations are you wrestling with? Are there any considerations that I haven’t thought of?

A beginning

Hey there, this is the first of what I hope to be a number of new blog posts about my journey as a writer. Maybe someday I’ll earn the moniker of author, but I’m not published yet, so until that day comes I am just ‘one who writes’. 

I’ve lately been attempting to pick up where I left off with writing so many years ago. I’ve always written, in one form or another over many, many years. From poetry to short stories to freelancing for the local paper to endlessly journaling, it’s been the most consistent thing I’ve done my whole life. Like many people who have an active imagination and a little bit of creativity, I’ve fallen prey to the desire to be a published author. I don’t know what it is about being published that’s so appealing, probably a healthy dose of sharing stories mixed with a little bit of ego and the desire to cheat death in some way.

I have to thank Michael Stackpole for giving me the courage to step up to the plate once again. Without his very helpful talk at GenCon 2011, I may never have had the courage to get back into it. He gave a talk, based on his Secrets podcasts called Twenty-one Days to a Novel. I came back after GenCon inspired and bought the ebook shortly afterwards. 

Having never had formal training or a mentor of any kind, I really connected with his message. While it’s not a complete walk through, and how could it be really, it was enough to get me started. At this point my novel is still in its infancy, probably around 12,000 total words between the couple of chapters and the notebook that I’ve nearly filled.

You can follow me on twitter, my account is over there on the right rail, or subscribe to get my new posts delivered. And please, send me your thoughts, your inspiration, your words of wisdom… I look forward to having a true two way communication here.