Okay, so this one is for my people who are SUPER passionate about writing!
And when I say passionate, I mean: you EXIST for writing the plot outlines for your stories, you act out the characters in your novel, you bleed literary devices and creativity! You might have family and friends, or even your dog, on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens on the next page of your story! If you’re anything like this, then you might be interested in getting an M.F.A. in Creative Writing!
Now, I’m gonna say this: getting an MFA in Creative Writing is not going to teach you how to write. You’ve got to come into the game already possessing that gift, so if you don’t have that part down pat, I suggest working on your writing skills before going for the MFA.
Oh, what is an MFA you ask? Well, an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing is a terminal degree that will help you to fine-tune your gift and to learn how to go about getting published without having to figure all of that out on your own. It’s the highest degree you can get for Creative Writing, although there are a small handful of Creative Writing Ph.D. programs out there, but not very many.
I’m currently doing my MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University as an online student (for various reasons). I just recently started at the end of last year and will be graduating next year in 2022. Currently, I am off for the Summer (hence, the reason I’m writing so much now), but I will be happily returning to grad school for the next term this month.
So far, I love what I am learning in this program as a writer and as a literary citizen. One thing that made me love the program is that it makes you think about your place in the realm of literature, and once you realize why you’re here, then you will know what path to take as you become an author (or a better, stronger one).
What does that mean, Khàli?
Okay, so you’ll start realizing what genre(s) you actually love to write versus the genres you thought you loved to write. I thought I loved to write poetry, but even though I’m a strong writer, I found that I’m not a poet. I also found that I’m not really a Sci-Fi writer either, but I’m a bomb-ass Contemporary Fiction writer who uses magical realism in all of my stories! I wouldn’t have realized that had I not entered this MFA program. This program also allows you to be exposed to genres that you thought you would hate writing, or not be good with writing at all. You might enjoy writing YA (Young Adult) novels, and write scenes that show the main character growing up (or coming-of-age), but then you might discover that you love writing horror or romantic scenes!
I’ve just started this program, I’m just 2 semesters in, but in just those two semesters I learned all the above. There is quite a bit of reading as well for the sake of understanding the different genres of writing as well as storytelling elements, and understanding the character and narrative arcs and the shapes of a story from the beginning to the climax, to the ending resolution.
When I return next month, I will learn how to navigate the battlefield that is publishing as well as the business aspect of being an author. This is something I could really use and look forward to learning more about in an academic setting. Just the thought of approaching a publishing house is intimidating for several reasons. One, is because of imposter syndrome, feeling like I’m not good enough to even bother a publisher. Another is because, well, I’m a Black writer that writes Black stories, and knowing that that’s my audience may be a turnoff for major publishers. The other issue is the number of tweets I see on Twitter where writers talk about how many query letters they’ve sent to agents versus the number of times they got rejected. Who wants to go through that? (Especially alone.)
So, that lands us here at another good reason to go for the MFA in Creative Writing. I suggest getting it if you want to become a college or university professor. Most, if not all, community colleges and universities require you to have at least a Master’s degree to teach at that level. Most universities only give tenure to applicants who have Ph.D.s; however, this is where having an MFA versus an MA will come in handy because an MFA is terminal in the Creative Writing field, an MA (Master’s of Arts) is not. So, when it comes to the Creative Writing major, the MFA is almost like a Ph.D. Many professors have MFA’s and continue to a Ph.D. in Literature or English (or other fields of study) to have a better chance of gaining tenure at a university.
Needless to say, we need a LOT more Black writers to get into these programs so that we can have even more control over the narratives of our own stories and our history as a collective. But that’s for another post.
Stay hydrated no matter what kind of writing you do! Check out this water bottle that I’ve been using all Summer to stay hydrated:
Are you in an MFA program? Do you have any questions about it? Shout it out in the comments below!