Saturday, August 27, 2016

Back to School: MFA Week, Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of our special Back to School: MFA Week! Six SCBWI-MI members (representing three different MFA programs) answer a question a day for the next six days. It's everything you ever wanted to know about getting your MFA.

Just joining us? Go here to read the first post in our MFA series.

Team MFA: Jennifer (Jay) Whistler, Diane Telgen, Anita Pazner, Erin Brown Conroy, Rebecca Grabill, and Katie Van Ark.

Why did you decide to pursue an MFA?

Vermont College of Fine Arts
Diane: I had been a regular attendee at SCBWI conferences, both local and national, for more than fifteen years. While some of them had workshop elements, I wasn’t getting the focus on craft that I felt I needed. I attended the VCFA Day in Ann Arbor in 2014, and the workshops Marion Dane Bauer and Coe Booth presented were the kind of craft-focused event I wanted. I was also impressed by the quality of readings from graduates and current students. I hadn’t thought about going back to school before, but by the end of the event I had decided to apply to VCFA.

Anita: Much like Diane, I wanted more in the way of workshops than could be found at SCBWI conferences. I attended a Highlight’s summer workshop and then did an online class with agent Wendy Goldman Rohm of the Rohm Agency located in New York and Paris. That’s when I realized I craved an academic setting to work on my novels. I highly recommend searching out writing classes locally or specific online courses to further your knowledge. The biggest reason I felt I needed an MFA program was that I was painfully unaware of gaps in my knowledge. In essence, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Erin: I earned my MFA with Western State Colorado University’s Low Residency program. I decided to go back to get an MFA for two reasons. 
1. The college where I was working (teaching online writing classes) wanted me to have more credentials for their impending regional certification process.
2. I knew I wanted to transition from nonfiction to fiction writing, and I wanted to learn fast. An MFA appeared to be the way to steep myself into the skills, to jump ahead -- and I can’t tell you how much it did. Story is so incredibly powerful, reaching hearts and souls in a way that nothing else can. You can say the power of story wooed me. I still write nonfiction, but a piece of my soul is now complete with fiction writing.

Rebecca: I’d been hiding a brochure to the (then only) MFA program in my desk for over a decade. Over and over I’d take the brochure out, page through, decide I didn’t need an MFA, it wouldn’t be worth the expense, I could learn all that “MFA stuff” on my own anyway… and I’d put it back. But after a decade of writing, I realized I wasn’t growing in any focused way. And, being totally honest here, I also started dealing with some serious issues, like a lifetime of agoraphobia. Suddenly it was time. None of my then-three children were in diapers, and I just knew this was the next step, one I desperately needed to take. So in 2009 I enrolled in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Hamline University, Minnesota

Thanks, Team MFA! Come back tomorrow for MFA Week, Day Three. Our team will answer the question, "What's it like to spend a semester in your program?"

1 comment:

  1. This is such an inspiring post! I've NEVER considered getting an MFA but this makes it seem like an obvious choice. Congrats!