Yesterday Mom made a comment about my copious free time, which I’m always bemoaning a lack of. Truth is, though, I have plenty of free time. What I don’t especially have is discipline in what I do in that free time. As I said to Mom, I use up most of my discipline writing.

That said, Maria Snyder just mentioned in her newsletter the non-residency university she got a Masters in writing popular fiction at, and it reminded me (yet again) how much I would like to get an MFA in creative writing. There are a number of problems with this. One is that it’s been made pretty clear to me that MFAs are books by committee, and I’m quite good at writing them all by myself, thanks. I can barely begin to fathom just how much books by committee would piss me off. :) Another is that attempting to write a book by committee would, I expect, really cut into my writing a book for money gig, and I’m rather fond of that bit. Another is that I would in fact have to apply discipline in order to achieve the goal, and I’m bad enough about cleaning the house; getting an MFA might be beyond me. Still, I’d really like to have one someday. Personal satisfaction, you know? It’s just a little difficult to imagine stopping, or cutting back, on the day job so somebody could teach me how to write…

There was at least one other thing I fully intended to blog about, but I cannot remember what it was right now. Oh well. Guess it couldna been that important.

ytd wordcount: 13,900
miles to Dunharrow: 66


  1. dancinghorse

    Definitely not the good kind of insanity.

    You are in the middle of writing 20 pages a day and you have no discipline? And you want an MFA?

    Hey, if you want a Useless Degree(tm), get an MA or better yet PhD in a topic of no contemporary utility but great personal satisfaction, and write your thesis/dissertation on something so abstruse only you, your advisor, and three other people will have a clue what it’s about.

    Now that is triumphantly extraneous.

  2. muneraven

    “. . .MFAs are books by committee, and I’m quite good at writing them all by myself, thanks.” They don’t HAVE to be. There are ways to sidestep that trap.

    1. Use your gut to pick the program and pay special attention to the teacher(s) you want to work with. Less ego equals less insistance that you write THEIR way (Frank Soos at UAF was my thesis director. NOT about ego, that guy).

    2. Put on your James Dean brain jacket and be a mental rebel. Question EVERYTHING. Call assumptions what they are. Ask why ALL THE TIME. The minute someone says you can’t write something a certain way, try to do it and see if you can pull it off. You can do all this politely, even respectfully, but it will save your brain and your work from being shaped in ways you don’t choose to shape it.

    3. Use the program’s classes like a buffet. Taste absolutely everything but only go back for seconds on the good stuff. Reject the bad stuff with a resounding YUCK.

    4. Spend some time with writers who write completely different stuff than you do. I wrote “literary” fiction but I mostly hung out with poets and non-fiction writers, and I learned so much from them, yet they didn’t change the core of my writing because they wrote in different genres entirely.

    5. Have at least three “arteest” moments. Most of the time writing just feels like regular old work, but it IS an art as well as a craft. So do something with other artists, something that makes you think about the fact that you are trying to do art, that you are part of something larger. It can be as grand as a theater/art/writing collaboration or as simple as taking a printmaking class. But do something that allows you to feel the grandness of writing and ALL the arts sometimes.

    An MFA program is a toolbox, and one can either build something nice with the things in the box OR cut her own fingers off. It is very much up to the individual.

  3. mizkit

    You are in the middle of writing 20 pages a day … And you want an MFA?

    You know, that’s what my mother said, too. :)

    and you have no discipline?

    I don’t lack discipline, I just use it mostly for writing! :) It’s *other* things I lack it in.

    I’d have to think of a totally useless but personally satisfying topic for an MA or PhD. Hm. Worth considering. :)

  4. dsmoen

    The Seton Hill program is an MA, not an MFA, but it is focused around genre writers. I finished mine in 2004 and really loved the program.

    Unlike most:
    1) Writing sf/f is considered a feature, not a bug.
    2) Published sf/f writers to study with.
    3) Published writers in other genres to study with.
    4) Some really good networking.

    I had a blast.

    If you’re really interested in an MFA instead, University of Southern Maine’s Stone Coast program has popular fiction as an option (James Patrick Kelly teaches there).

    I can definitively say that the Seton Hill program is not the typical “homogenization of taste” that many MFA programs have become.

  5. nuj

    I always wanted to get a masters, too, and this is a logical one. I know some people who’ve been through the program, though, and there’s no way I can justify it time-wise or money-wise.

    All the information in the program is available free elsewhere (or as a function of my membership in RWA). I’ve spent 13 years learning everything I can, so I’m afraid most of the coursework will be rehashing what I already know.

    At least as much time, if not more, would be spent helping fellow students and doing assignments that will probably slow down my now-pretty-fast writing/revising process.

    You’re already as successful as the faculty. :) Kinda adds to the “why bother?”

  6. dragonsinger

    Psstt…let me tell you a secret, and it’s the truth. I liked Urban Shaman ten times more than Poison Study. Seriously, I did. Jo is a way more fun, down to earth character.

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