Reflection Mode: Thinking About Life Inside an MFA Program

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Over the next few weeks as I write my last posts as MFA
Confidential I know I will certainly be in “reflection mode.” The two years I
spent in an MFA program have flown by—I can’t believe it is almost over. I
remember contemplating whether I even wanted to pursue this degree in the first
place, wondering if it was “worth it.” That age old question popped into my
head: Can writing even be taught? I realize now, it had little to do with that.
First—I was a writer before I entered the program— and though skills were
taught and works were analyzed, the program did so much more than simply teach
me how to shape a story: it encouraged me, pushed me, supported me, and
immersed me into a world I had only yet dipped my toes into. Yes, I dunked my
head deep into the world of writing. It became a priority. It became my goal.
And the structure and support of the program made chasing that goal more
manageable, more of a reality.

Would I have been so
fully engaged in the writing world if I hadn’t attended the program? I’m not so
sure. I certainly wouldn’t have made the contacts I made, formed the community
I now cherish. I certainly wouldn’t have been afforded the amazing opportunities
I’m so grateful for. Perhaps one day I would have had all these things, or some
version of these things, but I think it would have taken much longer to achieve
them. These two years have been so rich, a crash course of sorts, filled with
experiences that have shaped me.

And so now, I really hope to dig deep—I want to think about
all this: How would I explain to someone what an MFA in Creative Writing
program is really like? Would I recommend pursuing one? What did I learn? How
did it change me? There have been moments, too, of frustration and disappointment.
What would I have changed? And this: has the program prepared me for life
outside those walls? For a career in writing? I hope to tackle some of these
questions over the next couple weeks.

And if any you, my readers, have specific questions about
applying for an MFA, about life in an MFA program, or about writing in general,
please don’t hesitate in asking. Just drop me a note in the comments section
and I’ll do my best to answer it.

“You are buying yourself time. And time is
what a writer needs.”

-Tom
Kealey on one reason why to apply to a creative writing program, The Creative Writing MFA Handbook

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