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The MFA Miasma
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To MFA or not to MFA, that is the question. Whether tis nobler to remain minimally debt free and unburdened of the pretentions of the teaching class; or to submit to the whims and fancies of a few with expertise in search of credential, terminal writing degree, and perhaps greater opportunity if not greater debt.

I love writing and have gained immense pride from being able to respond "Writer" when asked what I do, but as of late I barely feel as if I am a writer. In fact, I feel that I am not a writer. Rather, I am a tender of grape vines for a local vineyard and struggling to provide even the basics required to maintain my family--rent, food, electricity, heat and so on. I have come to this fate not as an action of my own, but due to the failure of our economy in the wake of greed, corruption, massive incompetence and the ideological cancer that is modern conservatism.

So how do I return to the blessed state of "Writer"? How do I regain myself as a writer and enable the ability to spend my time on this planet engaged in my first and never ending love of reading and words and writing? I suppose it is to jump through the next hoop, which is to seek out an MFA. If that piece of paper will hopefully open up more opportunities than are available to me now, then I suppose it is the next course of action. I hate the thought of debt and I hate the thought of giving up the natural progression that has broght me along professionally. But I anticipate improving my writing, engaging with more writers and learning a few tricks of the trade and getting more trained eyes on my words.

So off I go...I hope I get in...

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Well, to tell you the truth....

...my MFA has done little for me. I don't think I'd have needed it to get a job at the paper (no one else had their graduate degree, after all - but they did have journalism degrees and internships, so maybe my degree acted as a substitute for that), and it hindered me from getting "blue-collar" work because I was deemed overqualified.

And I still owe a little over $50,000 in loans.

However, if I wanted to be a professor (adjunct or otherwise), the degree would certainly help with that.

Unfortunately, I don't want to teach. I'm really bad at it.

All that said, getting my MFA was the best thing I ever did. The workshops are inspiring. Being around other writers is fun. There is a certain camaraderie that comes with being in an MFA program, and I'll be forever grateful to have had that experience.

My advice to you: if you haven't seen it, watch The Wonderboys. The spirit, the feeling, of being in a grad school writing environment, is, while exaggerated, caught pretty well.

And then enroll in an MFA program. It may not open as many doors as you'd think, but it's so very worth it, anyway.

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Hi

Thanks for the words of wisdom with regard to an MFA.

 I did see the wonder boys and love that movie. I watch it every couple of years.

 

Thanks,

James