Looking Bad on Paper


If we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve already seen me rejoicing about my acceptance into graduate school– The Queens University MFA in Creative Writing in Charlotte, NC. I haven’t heard from the other program I applied to yet, but I’m very impressed with the Queens program and I think it’s a great fit.

Admittedly, it makes absolutely no sense to spend $25,000 on a degree in a field with no jobs, as traditional publishing implodes. It’s highly unlikely I’ll get a job in writing or a book published because of my MFA.

But have you ever made a decision in life that looks so wrong on the outside, and yet, on the inside your heart smiles so widely it nearly bursts out of your ribs?

That’s kind of how I feel right now about starting my MFA.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Whenever I get to a point where I’m fed up with rejections and feel like I can’t submit anymore, a published author comes along and tells me their own enormous difficulties on her or his road to publication.

On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of spending time with best-selling author Meg Waite Clayton, before her talk entitled Bulletproof Submissions at the Atlanta Writers Club on Saturday. If I ever become a successful writer (get a book published), I hope I can be as honest, forthright, and encouraging to other struggling writers as Meg was with me. Her story made me feel a little better about where I am in this journey, and motivated me to push on.

Thanks, Meg. I really needed that.

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17 thoughts on “Looking Bad on Paper

  1. I’m not sure the point of higher education is always to ensure employment or even a certain level of success. To me, writing programs are like tennis lessons. You’re probably never going to win Wimbledon. You might not even win a local tournament. But, if playing tennis is something that really gives you pleasure and a sense of satisfaction, then it makes perfect sense to push yourself to be better and better. Most things are more enjoyable when you’re doing them well.

  2. Congrats on your acceptance! I keep going back and forth about trying for an MFA (for the reasons you stated), so I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

  3. Congratulations! That is great news! I am looking forward to updates.

    I am sure I have probably told you this, but at the risk of repeating myself – my husband went back to school for a Masters in Jazz Studies about 3 1/2 years ago, at 50+ years. It cost about $35,000 and like an MFA, it isn’t really preparation for a specific job. He doesn’t regret it for a minute. It was a great experience and an education that will benefit him for a lifetime.

    Personally, I am working to complete a BLA degree in English and Legal Studies that was derailed years ago. It is never too late.

  4. Thanks, Lee. I feel like my writing needs a lot of improvement, and I really want to immerse myself in learning how to write the best I can. But also, if I don’t do it, I’m pretty sure I’d look back and regret it.

  5. Oh, Robin, I did not know this about your husband. How wonderful for you to share his story! I’ve talked to a lot of MFA Creative Writers. None of them have regretted it, either. And best of luck finishing your own studies!

  6. Hi Kate,
    I have been freelance writing for several years, and because Queens is low residency I can keep freelancing and do the program at the same time. Many people in low-res programs work full time, have families, and get the degree.

  7. Just discovered your blog….congratulations on
    starting the MFA at Queens! I’d love to do one at some point….Warren Wilson is my “dream school”. Look forward to reading more about your experience!

  8. Hi Kalyani,

    Thanks so much. I’m hoping to blog my residency experiences here. Once I get started, I’d be happy to answer any of your questions!

    Happy writing!

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