My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Defending the Ivory Tower

It's true that I strongly believe an MFA in Creative Writing might be the stupidest "what's next?" move someone could possibly make when it comes to trying to be a successful writer, and that the only real reason someone should pursue it is if they have the money and time to spare and really enjoy the kind of writing that MFA programs tend to produce.

But not all advanced degrees are created equal.  Even think other MFA's aren't punching out graduates who so consistently and regularly call their own program a ponzi scheme and their own degree a total waste of time...or worse.  And some MA's are positively useful...even outside of academia.  Further, there is a deep and inherent value in the exploration of knowledge and in education, no matter what the Tea Party would have us believe.  The pursuit of the esoteric for money or prestige is starting to fade from our culture, but we are still left with what we had in the first place, and that is the pursuit of the esoteric for its own sake--for the simple joy and pleasure of knowledge and learning.  It is even impossible for me to say that an MFA in Creative Writing from a pedagogically inflexible environment of stodgy, anti-genre "I know what is 'worthy' of fiction" professors would be completely useless.

And it's hard for me to deny that going back to college was the best decision I ever made as a writer.  It not only helped me with craft, but made me think about WHAT I write and what were actually "big" ideas (and what was just me bloviating about Philo 101 stuff).  It helped me avoid sophist pitfalls, and taught me how to entertain ideas without accepting them, and to think about things without believing them.  Even in my G.E. classes I was learning things about science, politics, psychology and more that have had direct beneficial influence on me as a writer.

College may not the auto-passport into a good job that it was for my parents' generation.  But good writing and education have always been besties, and there's a solid reason why.  So even though next door I'm firing trebuchets into the lofty upper levels of ivory tower's "artiste" section, here I will defend it's more down to Earth sections against education-hating troglodytes who want to smash open the gates and burn the whole thing to the ground.

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