Friday, April 8, 2011
G is for Graduate School
To MFA or not to MFA. That is a good question. There is so much "advice" out there about this, its hard to wade through. I've sort of always leaned towards getting an MFA for myself, and still plan on it, but the research has shown me that MFA's are definitely not the answer to everything. Going in or staying out with eyes open is the important thing, I think.
What I plan on getting from an MFA program:
Time and guidance towards improving my writing.
Fellow students and new friends who understand about this whole wanting to be a writer thing.
Networking with professors and perhaps agents and editors who can provide artistic and professional help for the rest of my career.
A final product I can be proud of. (Hopefully)
What I do NOT plan on getting from an MFA program:
Lessons in marketing and the modern publishing industry.
Immediate acclaim and mass popularity, though that would be nice.
What I plan on doing for myself:
Putting time and study towards improving my writing.
Reading as much as I can, both critically acclaimed and popular, to learn.
Networking with other writers, agents, editors and potential mentors whether inside of academia or out.
Working until I have a final product I am proud of. A published final product.
Getting any kind of job that will support my writing habit for as long as it takes.
Reading blogs and doing other research to teach myself about marketing and todays publishing industry.
Praying for acclaim and popularity.
My point with this last list is to show that an MFA is not necessary, particularly if you are willing to put in the necessary work yourself anyway. I believe an MFA can give you a quick boost with certain things, which is why getting one interests me, but perhaps more importantly, I plan to supplement whatever I get from an MFA on my own time, plus working to fill in as much as I can wherever an MFA is lacking. I guess the whole point is, your success is up to you and the work you put in.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you think an MFA is worth it? Do any of you with MFA experience have any advice you'd be willing to share?