To MFA or Not to MFA

I did not get my MFA.

I got my MA. At Hofstra University.

“Why didn’t you get your MFA?” It’s a question I hear all the time.

“Should I get my MFA?” Another one I hear often.

I stumbled upon a great blog post yesterday titled, On Blowing My Load: Thoughts from Inside the MFA Ponzi Scheme. Obviously, and I don’t think this is a spoiler alert considering the title of the post, the author doesn’t necessarily think that you need an MFA to become a writer.

I agree, and for many of the same reasons offered. However, I must say, and I’ve said it to anyone who’ll listen, I think — in fact, I know — that I would not have had Baby Grand anywhere near ready, I wouldn’t have had a solid chunk of it written, had I not gone back to school. That means I would have missed a golden opportunity to present it to an agent — an opportunity I had not foreseen — who would then become my agent. Would Baby Grand one day have been written? Sure. At least I hope it would have been. But going back to school to pursue my Master’s in English and Creative Writing allowed me to put my creative writing first after it languished on the back burners for years as I struggled to raise three children, grow my freelance writing business and see a movie once in a while.

Hofstra, at this time, does not offer an MFA, but for me it wasn’t about the actual degree. I liked the university’s MA program, from the hours/days offered, to the time I was allowed to complete my degree (five years) to the convenience of the campus. I loved being around professors and students who didn’t care about what I was making for dinner or what size my 3-year-old was wearing.

And it showed. While as an undergrad, I was often quiet in the classroom, doodling and staring at the clock, this time my hand was in the air more than not, my attention focused, and my joy clearly visible.

In other words, only you know if you should go back to school. For me, it wasn’t about what was required, but what fed my soul.


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