Do I Really Need an MFA?

My friend, trying to be helpful, sent me a link so a university offering an online MFA. “You’re writing, so you might as well get credit for it,” she said. I don’t know if that was what the school told her to write or what she decided to write before sending it to me.

For the heck of it, I filled out the application.  For four days I got spammed, constantly, with emails and phone calls and text messages saying they wanted to talk to me about my degree.  At all hours of the day and night, they tried to get a hold of me. I ignored them, because I found out that the start of the semester was June 9, and it’s long past that.

It got me to thinking, though, do I really need an MFA to write professionally? Perusing the Writer’s Digest fiction winners over the past few years, most of them had MFA’s. Some of them were professors. Do I need to provide a CV when entering the Writer’s Digest fiction sweepstakes?

The key word is “professionally.” Our work world is so entranced by how much paper you can accumulate from different “accredited” schools to prove that you’re good at what you do. That’s not necessarily true. You can be a good writer without having a degree saying that you are, I truly believe that. Academic fiction is far different than commercial fiction, and I think commercial fiction is open to anyone.

I say this not because I don’t have an MFA. I am the type to enjoy school and learning, being exposed to things that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to. But as for one or two professors to judge my work on a literary basis as opposed to a commercial basis, I don’t think that’s fair.  I am not a literary writer. I have a story. I tell it. So what if I follow certain rules, certain conventions, to make it commercial. Not only do I want to tell the story, but I want to make the reader enjoy it, not scratch their heads at what I wrote.

The purpose of an MFA, to me, is to get a better job. So that is why I would persue it. As for whether or not it would improve my writing? I really don’t care.

Aside: I’m reading Best Intentions, Glass Bottles Book 1 (Or is it Glass Bottles, Best Intentions, Book 1? Hereafter it’s Glass Bottles), which is written by my press-mate J. Dark. I’m going through the first chapter, and she broke a cardinal rule that I strive to follow: Don’t infodump the world in the first chapter. She did. But she did it well enough so that it moved the story along. Unfortunately, it’s not my cup of tea because it’s got a female protag (I have a thing about that), so I’m reading it to see how she handles the female protag, which is all the rage right now. Is she a badass or a bitch or neither or both? I’m not quite sure; I’ll have to get back to you on it.

I haven’t reviewed this book yet because, like I said, I’m slogging through only chapter one and it wouldn’t be fair. It’s a magical murder mystery; I like that. I would suggest, if you like female protagonists, magic and mystery, then jump into this book with both feet. She’s good.

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