The MFA Question

5 yr olds on a field trip to the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

Writers often ask, Do I need an MFA?  And there are those who often answer, You don’t need an MFA to write your book.  True enough.  But like most things, I don’t believe the answer is quite so simple.

I was not raised in an environment that valued education, but I’ve loved school since the first day of Kindergarten.  I finally finished college at age 39, and grad school at 45.  You’re never too old, right?  As for choosing the MFA, I was a reader and a writer, and I had the desire to keep learning, and to do that learning in a structured, university environment.  I may not have needed an MFA, but I most certainly wanted the process of getting it.

Looking back, there are things I wish I’d known before I started my MFA program, things that might have helped me manage both my romantic expectations and my time better.  I’m sharing these today over at Laura Maylene Walter’s blog, where she kindly asked me to guest post.  Click here to find out how it went for me.


12 thoughts on “The MFA Question

  1. jess

    I’m heading on over to read you at Laura’s blog, but I wanted to mention that I have a law degree that was never used for the practice of law. That wasn’t the plan, I fully intended to be a lawyer in juvenile court, but I discovered my path as a teacher because of law school. The education in law was worth every last student loan payment, every tortured moment of the Socratic method. The law degree got me my first teaching job (teaching law), which gave me the experience needed to snag my second, which led to a full-time job teaching English. It’s my love, my passion, and I never would have gotten there without the law degree. Learning begets learning, and that’s always good.

    1. Teri

      You’re exactly right, Jess. Nothing trumps your education. I feel like it’s one of the few things you carry with you no matter what happens. Learning and pushing yourself to learn always serves you well.

  2. lizisilver

    You do not know how much I needed this. I was going to solicit MFA advice and insight on my blog, and now I might not need to. Thank you thank you thank you Teri. It’s 7:54 am, getting ready to take my daughter to camp, but as soon as I have a moment I’ll sit down and relish reading about your higher education experience.

      1. lizisilver

        Thank you Teri. Your words will play in my mind during the application process each time I start to doubt and want to fling my papers off a bridge into a large body of water. “See what offers itself up”.

        I left a comment for you at Laura’s but it was my first time commenting and it was held for approval. Excellent post- thank you.

  3. lisahgolden

    I’m looking forward to reading that. I’m in the process of sorting out what it is I want to do next and there’s only one MFA program in Georgia. Apply? don’t apply? It’s been a long time since I went to school. I’m slightly terrified by the idea.


    1. Teri

      I ascribe to the idea that more school is never, ever a bad idea, and that being a little afraid to jump makes most things all the more worthwhile.

      There’s nothing like walking across a campus quad, hearing the tower bells ring, on your way to learn something new.

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