Letters on MFAs

Friends and strangers and old classmates and coworkers have all been asking me: What is an MFA? I’m sure I’m not the only one here in this program who gets asked this. I’d love to hear what you tell your friends you’re doing, when you get right down to it. Here are some excerpts from letters to and from questioning creative writers, TBC in other posts.

SD: …I hope this isn’t super creepy, but I was talking to JR a couple days ago and he mentioned that you just started your MFA at UA.  I moved to Tucson with my boyfriend in August…

Are you liking the program so far?

NS: …Were we in MB’s class together? If so, have you talked to him at all since graduation? I already told JR about how he totally ignores my emails…

SD: …No, I haven’t talked to MB (and yes, I’m pretty sure we were in that workshop together). I think the last time I saw him was at a reading at Shaman Drum and he made an awkward joke I didn’t get…

I’m thinking of applying here…

NS: …I do enjoy this program, although my relationship to it must be far different than most, having grown up in this town. Campus here is pretty typical, I’d say, although there are some gems, like the Poetry Center. The MFAers are pretty clique-y. I don’t mind, since I have friends outside of the program. I assume, too, that most programs are similar, since they are usually small when they offer as much money as this one does…

Mostly, you’re judged on writing, not teaching or sociability or grades…

SD: …It turns out one of my co-workers at the Honors College got her MFA here a few years back and when she and I were talking about it the other day, she said she wished she’d applied while she was working because she thought she could have done both…

NS: …I know a girl who works at a restaurant on weekends, TAs for a class, is taking 3 classes, and has a boyfriend and lots of free time to do fun things. Most people take 3 classes a semester, one being a workshop, another a “craft” class–Literature, basically–and, if you’re teaching, the 3rd is a “preceptorship” in which you hang out with an adviser and talk about grading, etc. once a week. The last semester here requires a “manuscript” class, in which you hang out with a professor once in a while (?) and talk about a novel or collection you’re working on…

I think I could have had a second job (other than teaching) this semester and been fine, because I’m only taking 2 classes and teaching 2 classes, but I knew I’d be busy with travel/visitors/applying for fellowships and I’m happy I just have the one job, especially since it syncs up with my school breaks…

I feel pretty taken care of here…

It is hard to tell people you’re busy when the thing you have to do is write. I did go to Vegas and had a crazy three days and then got stuck in crazy traffic on the way home and maybe that was a mistake but probably it wasn’t…

I might not go to this coming WIP because two of my friends are visiting now and I’m trying to juggle hanging out with each of their friend groups and my own, and getting ready for yet another visitor and then my sister, and then another visitor. Suddenly everyone wants to see what it’s like to live in the desert…

The great part about being “a writer” is you can count all the terrible decisions you make as “experience” to draw on in your work.

-N. Stagg

3 thoughts on “Letters on MFAs

  1. Pingback: Letters on MFAs | Sonora Review

  2. Pingback: Letters on MFAs | Sonora Review

  3. Pingback: Letters on MFAs | Sonora Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s