From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, September 7, 2015

First Week of the MFA: What I've Learned Already

So I've survived week one, and am on my way to start week two. It's been a very enlightening week. I've already had to make some pretty big mental adjustments, and make decisions about strategies and expectations. Still working on that part, really. But here's what I've learned already.

Other writers can be intimidating. Especially poets, not gonna lie. It's going to take some adjusting to get back in the swing of academia again. Outside of school, you sort of think you know what you're doing, but all that feels like it has to go out the door once you're in a workshop with a bunch of other writers. But I've decided that this is going to be a good thing. It will be good to learn from writers that intimidate me (both professors and fellow MFAers) and it will be good to learn not to be intimidated. Which brings me to my next point...

Don't lose yourself or what you already know. I've been blogging and researching marketing and the industry and working on short fiction and novels and poetry since I graduated college. I'm sure many of my fellow students have too, but my point is that the work I've already put into a writing career doesn't necessarily have to do with them. What I've learned about the industry and who I've already become as a writer will grow with the program, but that most definitely doesn't mean that the work I've already done isn't valuable.

Optimize your opportunities. So I have had to make some decisions about how I want to approach this program, as all students do. I think most have the tendency to come back on campus with guns blazing and eyes popping and ready to take on absolutely anything that comes there way. I have decided that is not the most effective or efficient approach. There will be so many opportunities on campus, and there are so many opportunities for writing in general. But between presenting a conference paper on 19th century American literature and submitting a short story portfolio for a creative writing scholarship, I know which opportunity I need to focus on. And if that means saying no to other things, then so be it.

I want to especially point out that these lessons, and others I will learn throughout this MFA program, are available beyond a university campus. I am most definitely not getting this degree because I think I have to to be a writer. That's false. I'm doing this because 1) I believe and hope it will make me a better writer and 2) I hope it will help me increase understanding of and make connections within the publishing industry.

Anyway, I hope you all had a fantastic labor day. Write on!

Sarah Allen

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  1. I wish these types of courses had been around when I was leaving school. I've been out of education for far too long to want to go back now. And my family responsibilities are too many. I'm looking forward to reading about your academic year :-)

  2. Glad to see you're already learning and growing as a writer, Sarah. I recently decided to head back to school for a master's degree myself, although the degree I am studying for is in Computer Science, not Creative Writing. So best of luck to the both of us! And thanks for sharing your experiences. :)

  3. I bet it will make you a much better writer, and accent the things you already know.

  4. Very interesting. I just started my BA in Creative Writing last week.

  5. I hope you enjoy every moment. Very good points and its' fantastic that you've already learned so much.


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