The Creative Writing MFA Blog
People write in fairly often about studying creative writing in a higher education setting. Right now, I am decidedly anti-getting a creative writing MFA, but that’s just my opinion and what I think is right for my own life (and I LOOOOOVE school). But The Creative Writing MFA Blog has several contributors who are in grad school right now and they seem to be giving some great insights. So if you’ve been thinking about creative writing grad school, check it out!
Also here is an unrelated but reeeeally pretty of my alma mater :)
My professor who is the director of the mfa program at GMU told me that a MFA is good if you want to teach at a college level. Getting a MFA along with a published book (yeah or two) will get you into a tenure track professor gig while the MA in English won't get you that. He said basically you need a MFA or PhD to get a tenure track job. If that helps any.
It does. I, personally, feel that the only reason to get your MFA is if you want to eventually be a professor.
On grad school. A lot of top writing programs do waive tuition and stipend fairly generously, so you don't necessarily have to take on debt to get an MFA. These programs are usually pretty selective too, but it's worth mentioning. And yeah, getting a professorship without an MFA (or some impressive publication history) is not really viable anymore. Some places will probably even want a Doctorate in writing (not a lot of those, but more than there used to be). Just some food for thought.
I'm a biology major and I'm going to graduate in less than a year or so. I want to study creative writing and/or literature for my Master's Degree. What do I need to do to achieve that? I'm sorry I'm bothering you with this question, but you have a lot of experience and I really admire what you do with your Tumblr page. Oh. Did I forget to mention that I live in Puerto Rico?
Well first of all, if I was you I’d make sure I really wanted to get my Masters in either of those subjects. Ask yourself: Do I have a bucket of money I want to put into this? Does it not matter to me if I delay starting my career by 3 years? Do I understand that my chances of employment/publication will not be greatly improved once I get my Masters? If the answer is yes, then I would still consider it. I once asked my writing professor Randall Kenan what he thought about grad school for creative writing and he said, “Don’t go. In my opinion, grad school is for people who can’t motivate themselves to write on their own. Go start living life, have experiences, be poor. That will give you way much more to write about.” He didn’t get his Master’s and became a professor in a time before that was important, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
I don’t know if applying for graduate programs is the same in Puerto Rico as in the States, but I’m sure the process is the same—research schools with programs that seem to suit you, apply. I doubt your biology background will matter, versus having an English/creative writing background, except that a big part of your application will almost undoubtedly be comprised of writing samples. But that’s about as much advice as I can give, since I’ve never applied to graduate school and I don’t live in Puerto Rico!
About being a creative writing prof:
(1) getting into graduate school right now is harder than ever because of the economy. Grad programs (particularly liberal arts and fine arts programs) are refusing more applicants because they simply can't fund them. Or pay them. Or anything.
addendum: never go to a grad school you have to pay for. Get a fellowship. Most universities provide this in the form of a teaching or research fellowship. MFA programs will generally ask you to teach a writing course.
(2) Teaching in college is, most definitely, babysitting. I've just decided today to have an in-class discussion with my students about where it is proper and improper to write their name on a piece of paper (when it takes more than two minutes for me to FIND the name on the paper, we have a problem, let alone if I can actually READ the name). Teaching a writing course is even worse, I can imagine (I currently teach science)--most students have absolutely no idea how to write and you have to read each paper thoroughly if you want to give sufficient criticism (I have done some of this and it is very time-consuming and mind-numbing). Most students will not care about how to write. Most students will not have proper grammar and most students will _fight_ you about this.
All that being said--law school's not that great an option, either. The market's flooded with lawyers and most recent graduates I know are having extreme difficulty with finding a job.
I am, of course, not trying to discourage you from teaching, or from pursuing what you really want; I'm just trying to make sure you're well-prepared and not misguided into thinking that college teaching is the solution to any of the problems you had mentioned previously. Teaching at the college level is something you must WANT to do, with a passion. And you must be willing to do it for a very low salary until you can obtain tenure (which usually involves having multiple publications under your belt and so many years of experience and participation on so many boards and committees--it's different everywhere you go, but it's a long process.)
I would suggest talking to a professor before jumping on the academia bandwagon.
I knew as soon as I posted that ask that I was going to get a message like this! I know, I sounded pretty uh… overly optimistic? And probably a little naive.
I’m in my early twenties, so big dreams about our futures is part of the game. But don’t worry, I am a realist. Between when I wrote the last post and saw this one, I’ve already sat down with my creative writing teacher to talk to him about what he did to get where he is. His advice? Don’t go to grad school, just get published.
Part of me feels like that’s easy for him to say, because he’s a genius, but then again I guess the end game is really to write.
I know that I’d have to read a lot of
shit less-than-publishable-quality writing as a professor, but I’m used to that, since in all of my workshop classes I’ve had to read all of my classmates’ pieces. And I mean, look at this blog.
I’ve been moving towards law school for a few years now, so I know all about what a not-great idea that is, too… but basically my generation lives in the age of “good luck at getting a job once you graduate, sweetheart!” so pretty much anything anyone’s looking at doing is going to be hard to do. If I’m gonna live a life of penny pinching, at least I want to be doing something that I love to do.