Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Freelancing and the MFA

I'm thrilled to have a reported essay up today over at one of my favorite sites, Mediabistro.com, titled "Is an MFA a Boost for a Freelance Career?" I tell a bit of my own personal experience, and present tips and advice from magazine editors, an agent, successful freelancers who also happen to have MFA degrees, an MFA program director, and a novelist/MFA faculty member.

Because it's part of Mediabistro's membership-only AvantGuild section (which houses an incredible amount of insider info handy for writers, editors and others in the media or publishing worlds) you won't get the full text when you try
this link (unless you are an AG member). But it starts out like this:

"Two years ago, I wanted to restart a writing career dormant for eight years. My undergraduate degree was in journalism and I had worked as a freelance writer and public relations specialist but, hoping to stretch my writing muscle, I decided on an MFA in nonfiction. I knew an MFA program is more focused on craft than career and might not prepare me for any specific job, literary or otherwise. But, I still wanted one; I wanted to immerse myself for two years in nothing but writing. And how could learning to write better not help any writer's career?....."

Researching this article put me back in mind of all the reasons I love freelancing: I get obsessively interested in a particular subject, or something intangible in the zeitgeist grabs my attention, and I want to know more – up close. So I figure out an angle that might make sense to a certain slice of readers, pitch the article idea, get the go-ahead and BAM – now I have permission to contact, well, anyone.

"Hi, I'm preparing an article for X and I'd like to ask you a few questions about…" Pretty soon, I am having a conversation in person, over the phone or electronically, with an interesting person whose brain I am now officially welcome to pick.

Back when I was pregnant and then a new mother, whatever I was perplexed or worried about -- drug-free childbirth, postpartum depression, children's foot injuries, security at preschools, and all sorts of other topics – went straight into the query/interview/report bin. Although essay writing takes up a good bit of my time these days, I still like the fit of the reporter hat.

Space over at Mediabistro was limited, so later this week or next, I'll put up an extra-long post here with more of the Q&As I conducted with the experts (which didn't make it into the final piece).


Erika D. said...

Nice article, Lisa! Congrats.

Special Needs Mama said...

Bravo! I have a friend putting together a panel on this topic. Would you like her contact information? I think it will be in San Francisco, but something to consider.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Great Lisa! Can't wait to read your article.

That was always my MO as a freelancer. You get to hide behind the "press pass" to find out about things that interest you.

Rudycat said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and love it. I'm a recent MFA graduate looking to start a freelancing career and will need all the help I can get. Thanks so much!