Go to Disney World? Sounds expensive, LOL.
No, I won’t be going to Disney World. #1, it *is* expensive. #2, I’ve been at odds with that place for years. (Don’t ask: It involves locking myself in the hotel bathroom and sobbing.) Anyway! Here, instead, of my theme park itinerary, is my very practical list of what I *am* going to do now that I have my MFA:
- Keep my day job.
- Keep making new poems.
- Revise the shit out of my manuscript and seek opportunities to publish it.
- Return to writing book reviews.
- Return to submitting individual poems/packets to journals.
- Return to blogging here.
- *Finally* get new prompt site (This is Not a Literary Journal) underway.
- Launch new blog on a subject I’m super passionate about but cannot disclose yet.
You’ll notice, of course, that none of these tasks actually require an MFA or have anything to do with that achievement. And that’s exactly as I planned it. I didn’t pursue my MFA for any reason other than the opportunity to access yet another environment where I could explore my craft. I’ve always been well-informed about the pros and cons of the degree, and it was the right choice for me. It was a great experience, I worked my ass off and I have most definitely grown as a writer.
I read all the same articles everyone else reads. One of the more thorough and well-informed pieces can be found in the New York Times: Cecilia Capuzzi Simon’s “Why Writers Love to Hate the MFA.” Just like all the discussions of the MFA (in the larger venues, anyway), the comments section of this post is swamped with the debate. One of the main criticisms always seems to be that an MFA isn’t a guarantee that a writer is going to “make it.”
I’ve written about this here before, but I’ll say it again: Since when is the “promise” to make a living or become a celebrity the only good reason to do anything? We’re obsessed with too much bull shit like that.
In her new podcast (“Magic Lessons“), Elizabeth Gilbert talks to an aspiring writer about the preliminary work we do as creative people as being like building a runway and speeding down it. We do that so our writing can take flight… whatever that means for us: start a novel, send out a book of poems, etc.
And though the whole “take flight” metaphor is cliche, it resonated with me. Cliches do that. So! You build your runway with or without an MFA, and I’ll build mine. And we’ll celebrate *all* the ways these crazy contraptions otherwise known as poems* take to the sky.
*essays or stories, too