Monday, July 22, 2013

The Good, the Bad, the Uncomfortable: The MFA, Five Years Later

This weekend, while I was doing nothing writerly -- okay, I did take notes for a future essay while in a gorgeous hotel that reminded me of traveling with my parents -- a guest essay of mine was posted on the Stonecoast Community Blog.  

It's my take on what's happened for me, and more importantly, what has not (yet?) happened in the five years since I graduated from the Stonecoast MFA program, and why both matter.

I hope it instigates some thoughtful questions for writers anywhere along the MFA trajectory--before, during, upon completion and several years out.

In part, the post reads:
Some of the mile markers I had originally set for myself upon graduation—maybe overly hopeful, surely overly confident—simply fell away. Others got moved further into the future. Most are in a constant state of revision. Getting from one point to the next was, is, taking longer than I liked. But as one year sloughed into the next, and X hadn’t happened on schedule, I watched myself respond with less of the judgment that is my initial self-critical reflex. Instead: 'Oh, not now? Okay, next year will be fine too. Or the next.'
So, some days, I don’t mind at all.
I’m not lazy or apathetic, but understanding that what seemed so clear to me in 2008 was an illusion, has been freeing, until suddenly, it isn’t. Like one day last month...
You can read the entire post here.

What about you?  Did you complete an MFA program several years ago, and looked back? I'd love to hear, in comments.


Julie Farrar said...

Loved this essay because this summer is my first at my MFA program (not Stonecoast, although it came in a close second in choices). I'm trying not to psych myself out by looking 5 years past graduation when I've barely started, but I'm also trying not to start evaluating my progress by all those standards you pointed out -- the same way I try to ignore all the tweets and FB posts that shout (brag) "Wrote 5000 words today!" I will setting the writing goals that I set. Yes, a book is one. But I also realize I only control the writing, not the publishing. I can't make someone say "yes," but I can continue to work hard at my art.

Amy Morgan said...

Your honesty and directness are so refreshing and encouraging Lisa. I believe there will definitely be at least one book with your name (alone) on the spine in my library in the future (and not so distant). I am so thankful that you have come into my writing life as the great mentor that you are and maybe that's selfish - as it may use energies you could put towards your MFA goals, but it is a fact nonetheless. So, a heartfelt thank you! Onward! :)