The Write Life: Make My Own MFA Program

With my recent posts, it looks like I do nothing but seek happiness and come up with Harvest Creations. I assure you, I’m writing, too.

Most recently, the latest issue of Poets & Writers showed up in my mailbox. It’s their annual MFA issue. This issue for years (its their 7th year doing this special-themed issue) has inspired me to push my writing farther. It inspired me to finish my bachelor’s degree (9/2010) and finally take the leap to live a full-time writing life (those that know me part of the last was prompted by my need to care for my special-needs child, too). This month when the issue arrived, I revisited my desire to get my MFA. Many folks in the writing business will tell you that you do not need a MFA to be an author. I have had traditional publishers, agents, celebrated and not-so-celebrated authors tell me an MFA is not necessary. That is true. For me, however, the pull to spend some dedicated time to even pushing my craft further is very strong. It’s like it’s a Jedi Warrior and I’m the light saber. Come to me, it beckons. Let’s slice through that creative fog and get down to business. Also, the idea of someday teaching creative writing in a college-level setting is high for me. My husband and I plan to take many motorcycling trips. Working through fall and winter to have the summer off for riding & writing is a great motivator for me.

But, even with the low residency options, I have to put my pursuit of an MFA on hold. My special-needs child is far from being independent and I have two more teens to get through high school and off to college successfully. Yeah, yeah, there’s no time like the present argument and all that. But, with the kids at home, financially the MFA isn’t in the cards right now. My kids and spouse suffered enough when I was finishing my bachelor’s. Right now the main focus for me is raising and caring for them.

Despite the knowledge that pursuing an MFA is years down the road for me (my youngest is five years from attending college), I’ve been outlining and researching a lesson plan for a Make-My-Own MFA program. Maybe once I finish this, I’ll be less likely to want to get an official one. Regardless, in the next five years plus, I can push my craft and broaden my writing knowledge. One of my college professors told me when I was waffling about turning in credits I had earned from other institutions, stating that I wanted to learn new things told me, “You have your whole life to learn new things and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. There’s the libraries and internet. You love to learn, Casz, that won’t stop just because you’ve left college.”  He was right. In addition, I’ve been watching fellow writers, artists and musicians who are friends, acquaintances, and those I admire do basically the same thing.

When the kids go back to school next week, I’m going to be going to school, too.It will be at the MMO MFA University. I’ll be spending no less than 15 hours a week on writing activities much like an MFA program would allow you. I’ll be spring boarding off my writing groupHOuseNDST 001 copy in lieu of fellow classmates, and even attending any literary lectures I can that are zero to low-cost. Each week I’m going to try to blog about what I’m doing, what I’m learning, and how my Make-My-Own MFA is progressing.

It could be the folly of a fool. Yet, nothing ventured, nothing gained. See ya at school next week.


3 responses to “The Write Life: Make My Own MFA Program”

  1. What a grand idea! I’m doing the same thing, or will be in a short time. I’m usually taking classes, and attending retreats, though I may back off of this due to the horrifying experience of the last class I took. Oh, it was a great class, but all the other students AND the instructor only talked about their stupid grandchildren (i.e. “Li’l Susie spilled the whole milk carton all over the table!”). When they ran out of stupid grandchild stories, they went into Tragic Holiday Events. Someone told the “uplifting” tale about grandpa walking right into grandson’s line of fire ON THANKSGIVING!!! while they were out killing deer for trophy fun, I said, “Sounds like he had it coming.” They thought I was harsh. I said that, yeah, it’s real harsh going out into the woods to murder animals who live there, for the fun of it. They shut up. But I don’t think I ever want to sit through that kind of garbage again. My pal, the internet, has much excellent instruction in all the media I want to use.

    I wish you well with this, and I think it’s the perfect solution. At worst, you’ll be well-prepared for that MFA program, and at best, you’ll have done enough writing not to need it.

    1. That’s the idea, yes. Prepared either way, whether I take the MFA finally or not. So sorry your class and retreat was so strange. People and instructors totally can make or break the class, for sure. Keep me posted on how you do your “classwork.” It might be nice to compare notes here.

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