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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Liveblogging an MFA (Mailbox)

Will I live blog an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing?

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer one or two of them every week or so. I will use your first name ONLY, unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. See if you can figure out which shell the pea is in when I'm done.]   

Spaceman Spiff* asks:

*This is how they signed the email. I didn't make it up.

You seem like just the person who could go get an MFA in creative writing and blog about your every insight. It could be a service to the world of writers who can't afford the tuition of an advanced degree. You seem to more on the ball of than most of the students (and honestly some of the instructors). If anyone could turn the lessons that matter into a daily post that makes us laugh, it's you. We could all follow along at home, save forty grand, and you would be a hero.

My reply: 

[So there's a bit of a shell game going on behind the scenes at Writing About Writing right now. I got permission to use a question a little too late to get it cooked up from scratch for today's post (so it's going to be next week's question). The Friday post is coming along, but it got a little too long and it's being split up, and I'm still working on the dialogue post. So while I switch today's post to tomorrow, tomorrow's post a two-parter, and this week's question to next week, try to keep track of the pea while I do jazz hands.

So for this week I dug a super quick quickie out of the archives from last summer when we didn't quite reach the 20 questions needed for a 20 Questions post. And hopefully you all will forgive some old school errors and on-the-fly corrections. Because of this shell game, I'm working without my editor.]

Liveblogging huh? So....are you saying that taking seven years to get about half way through my first semester of undergrad isn't fucking FAST enough for you, Spiff?

This would make for a fascinating study into the ideology of higher education if I were discovered to be doing what you suggest (and I'm sure I would). Would the institution honor the spirit of sharing knowledge and that everyone deserves access to education if I were EXPLICITLY sharing that day's lessons before the ink on my notes dried? Or would I get kicked out of the program because I'm cutting into a potential pool of future tuition-payers and "giving away the store"?

I have to tell you that it's been a long time since there's been quite this much nuance in such a "HELL NO!" answer. My writing career might only pay a spendthrift's nightmare, but it is off and running, and generally an MFA would be a step in the wrong direction. Notice I didn't say "backward." Because that's not true. I have my issues with MFA's, but they also have their place. However, I would be largely learning in a writing style that I don't tend to write in, putting a lot more energy into process and workshop than I do currently, pausing all my current projects to work on a more "literary" thesis (usually a novel or a collection of short stories for CW-MFAs), and between the class workload and liveblogging every day, it would completely take over all my writing energy for the years I was involved.

The short answer is "Nah." But if you bring your diamond bit drill bit and insist on digging down, you'll find some "Maybe, I guess?" in the deepest strata of "Fuck no."

So here's the maybeness: If someone paid for my tuition at a school of my choosing without a "No genre" pedagogy (including an extra year to get through the program so that I could take classes at a more reasonable pace), paid for my books, housing, transportation, the lost income from blog and nannying, and a stipend because the career I'm working on (and ALL my current projects) would be put on hiatus, I might––MIGHT––be willing to consider doing this. But I would not be willing to do it on my dime, be a starving student, abandon all my works in progress, and probably end up being asked to leave the program as soon as one of the TA's said, "Hey, have you seen this?"

Basically if I could walk out of this entire endeavor having made more than I would have had I kept working, it certainly has the potential to be a fascinating story. But I don't imagine anyone has the low-six-figures of disposable cash for the shits and giggles of a few insightful posts and some Homestar Runner jokes.

But if this is something you really want, Chris gotsta get PAID!

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