To a degree

Thank you for your wonderful comments on my last post. All of you are wise and right, and if anyone out there has more insight into MFAs, or is weighing the decision to get an MFA, I’d appreciate the input.

For now, I’ve decided to spend this year researching MFA programs and perhaps attend the next AWP conference. If I decide to apply, it won’t be until next fall, to enter in the year 2013. From a practical point of view, this makes more sense– my youngest will be in full day Kindergarten. I may also enroll in a writing class here, though their reputations leave something to be desired (too basic, instructors have very few publications, a high-school writing class for adults). Or, I may just keep doing what I do now– attend writing workshops/conferences throughout the year sponsored by the AWC.

I’m 35 pages into my first set of revisions of my now 248-page novel. I’m finding loads of inconsistencies, but I’ve been surprised to find that the writing is actually not terrible. It needs a ton of improvement, but it’s not as bad as I suspected.

I love this New Yorker essay by Jhumpa Lahiri about how she got started as a writer. It wasn’t available online when it first came out, but I’m happy to see it online now. This passage is about her decision to pursue a degree in creative writing:

The class was open only to writing students, so I did not expect Epstein to make an exception. After he did, I worked up the nerve to apply for a formal spot in the creative-writing program the following year. When I told my parents that I’d been accepted, with a fellowship, they neither encouraged nor discouraged me. Like so many aspects of my American life, the idea that one could get a degree in creative writing, that it could be a legitimate course of study, seemed perhaps frivolous to them. Still, a degree was a degree, and so their reaction to my decision was to remain neutral. Though I corrected her, my mother, at first, referred to it as a critical-writing program. My father, I am guessing, hoped it would have something to do with a Ph.D.

One thought on “To a degree

  1. Jeez, four years gone and you’re still right in sync with the M&M book group. We just picked one of Lahiri’s books for next year…short stories I think, we discussed a few and I forget which was the eventual pick. Thanks for the link!

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