Is an MFA worth it?

Quite a few people argue against a Master of Fine Arts.
Too much money. Too much time. Not enough payback.

I beg to differ.

If your goal is to become an excellent writer
(or painter, or sculptor, or screenwriter, or whatever),
then an MFA might be your short track to get there.

(It is for me.)

As I sit in my dorm room for my third on-campus part of Western Colorado State University’s low-residency program, I’m reflecting. Before I enrolled, I fancied myself a pretty good writer. But we all know that good is arbitrary. Good is relative. (How good is good? Can good be better? Oh, yes. Much better.)

While in the program, my writing didn’t just take leaps and bounds; it jumped canyons.

  • There’s something about people who’ve been-there-done-that giving insider advice that I really like, that makes me better, faster.
  • There’s something about building relationships with other writers striving through the same exercises that boosts drive and focus.
  • There’s something about someone chopping up your work (nicely, of course) that carves precise meaning that (eventually) feels good.
  • There’s something about creating bonds with professionals that last into publishing and beyond.
  • There’s something about working hard with a goal that puts a lamp in your hand to light the pathway ahead.

Years ago, someone said to me, “Education is compacted experience.” I agree.

As with any degree, it’s not about the letters. Or the arrogance of a title. It’s about learning. Growing. Becoming. And, because of the hard work and experiences, being able to give back more.

(I love to learn. And give.)
(If I ever act pompous or arrogant, you have my permission to bop me upside the head and set me straight, fast.)

But the question remains:
Do you need an MFA to tell a good story?
To create a beautiful work of art?
To share your passion?
Of course not.

But an MFA may be just the spark to creating powerful, touching, dynamic work.
Work that makes a difference.
Work you’re proud of.
Work you can share with others,
to inspire, to encourage,
and to give a greater sense of living fully together on this big, blue earth of ours.

*Thup
CoffeeJuly3,14

PS. James Scott Bell just posted a good post that dovetails into what I’m talking about here.
You might want to check it out here.