Anything that gets you writing is a good thing. Taken in that light, I’m happy that I spent 3 years earning an MFA. Was the MFA degree totally useful? Probably not. Then again, I didn’t apply for or accept an MFA thinking I would use it as an academic stepping stone to a Ph.D or something like that—I know some people do. But my writing and life philosophy is that after a certain amount of years in school it’s best to move
Scientists carry out experiments to support or refute hypotheses. A good hypothesis is something that is easily testable, such as: A student enrolled in an MFA in Creative Writing program will produce 100x more pages in one year than an amateur writer with a similar level of experience and skill. Unfortunately, I have no data regarding the pages produced by writers who are and aren’t enrolled in MFA programs. All I have is my own subjective experience, which is this: I transformed from a person too scared to
My name is Barry and I’m a little odd. One day, a couple years ago, I said to myself, “I’m gonna go to writing school and I’m going to learn to write and then I’m going to make my living as an author. Why not? I love to read. Can’t be that hard."
At the time, I was living in Alaska and didn’t care to leave because it was (still is) the best place. So, I checked the University of Alaska website to see if they had a writing program. 12 years prior, I had earned a BA inPhilosophy, so I was hoping they had a graduate program.They did. Something called an ‘MFA in Creative Writing’.
After I avoided hawking copper pots at Costco for eleven hours a day, I found my dream job as the sole, untrained receptionist at a garbage processing facility run by taciturn blue-collar men. As I pondered a list of prohibited items including hot ashes and dead animals, musing on the fact that I had the authority to accept cold ashes but not live animals, I finally admitted that my degree in creative writing would likely never make me a financially stable and deeply lauded author. And then I laughed at myself and felt happy again.