1. ZombieHappyMeal
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    ZombieHappyMeal Member

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    Looking for info on MFA Creative Writing Programs.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ZombieHappyMeal, Aug 11, 2011.

    I have been researching MFA Creative Writing programs quite a bit lately and was wondering if there are some good online resources. What are good things to look for when choosing schools to attend? Is it a good idea to go to school for creative writing in the first place, or are you better off learning on your own?

    To those of you that have attended graduate school for creative writing, I would love if you would share your thoughts on the experience. Did you feel it was valuable? Do you feel you are a better writer because of it? Are you now working in the field or are you flipping hamburgers and waiting to be published?

    Thanks for the information and I look forward to your responses.
     
  2. e(g)
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    e(g) Member

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    Graduate education is very expensive and time consuming. But, perhaps you are wealthy and have time to kill. Being wealthy and having time to kill would be the only reason I could see for anyone getting an MFA in creative writing. Success in creative writing is only mildly helped by formal education. If a person thought it through, they could get all the formal education they need for writting novels from an associates degree in liberal arts.

    If you want to teach college, of course, you will need probably a Ph.D. in order to compete with other applicants. I guess it all depends on what you want to accomplish with the MFA.

    In my opinion, publishing fiction is becoming an entrepreneurial activity. If I am right, then no degree in the world is going to help one become a successful writer. Having said that, education is great. A bachelors of arts in English literature might be the best thing, or perhaps a broad liberal arts degree with lots of writing courses.

    I buy a lot of books because I review gothic novels put out by independent publishers and those who go through small presses. I look at everything. I read the book, Google the writer, look up the publisher, etc. But I have never once looked at the educational credentials of a writer. If you look at the books I have reviewed on my website, I can honestly say I have no idea if any of those authors have ever once been to college.

    An MFA won't get you published and it won't make you successful. It might educate you, but so will a bachelor's degree or a well-planned associates degree. What it will do that cannot be done by any other means is stall you dead in your tracks for the years you spend getting it, all the while making you think you're getting somewhere in the wonderful world of writing when really you're just spending time and money away from the main game.

    I wish you the best of luck and thank you for reading my opinion on this topic.

    Sincerely,

    e of g
     
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  3. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    Agree completely with the above. If you feel the need for a MFA in creative writing because you think it will make your writing better, than writing is most probably the wrong vocation for you. Academics do not produce good creative writers. No one can simply "produce" a good writer. I'm personally about to reenlist at college for a potential degree in computer programming. Far more solid insofar as jobs go, and lucrative enough to pay for any writing I'd like to do in the meantime.

    Writing novels is one of the few professions left that doesn't require a sheepskin, just a lot of talent and a good dosage of excellent luck. That said, you might be able to get a job as an itinerate professor with some colleges, and have the dubious joy of teaching incoming college freshmen their remedial English courses, or basic "creative writing" to a bunch of dumb-as-rocks kids who are simply there because it lets them tick off another credit on their required course list. There are people teaching at the college level with just a masters, but it's hardly anything I would call ideal.

    So far as I knew, publishing fiction has always been an all but entrepreneurial profession. And like all things, you're either cut out for it or you aren't. Take a few classes in learning the basics of the publishing process, if you like. Beyond that, don't waste your money. If you're shooting for a living off it, chances are you're going to need every penny before you finally strike gold.

    The day every publisher starts requiring a diploma along with the manuscript... is the day I find a convenient cliff, because I'll know the world really has reached rock bottom.
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Go to a school in or near a major publishing centre, and the connections you'll gain will make the price tag worth it. Publishing, like so many other industries, is all about connections--not what you know, but who you know. It's true that a fortunate few make it out of the slush piles of big houses and make a success of themselves, but far more go to New York or London, get to know the right people, and work their way up. Collaborate on magazines or independent projects with other young writers, get to know editors of journals and magazines, make contacts with agents and publishers, and you'll be off to a good start, and the best way to do that is to go to a good school in a well-connected area.

    On the other hand, an MFA in creative writing from a random school in the middle of nowhere probably isn't going to offer much in the way of job prospects or career pathways.
     

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