2014, Archives, October 2014, The MFA Years

Why You Love Your MFA Program


  1. You go to all your classes. You can’t wait to get there. You’re excited to come out of your cave, to see real live people, to talk about books and writing and life and meaning. You aren’t late to class unless you’re dying. You don’t miss class unless you’re dead. You are reliable, people trust you. Everyone knows that if they miss class you will have notes for them, and maybe a funny story about something awesome that happened, and then they will never want to miss class ever again.
  2. You keep track of everything. If you leave the house without your planner, your life is over, but only for that day. You write down every single event and appointment and class and party and trip and things you hope you will have time to do but will never have time to do. If someone doesn’t know the date for something, you know. Then people ask you for dates, and you feel you have a place and a purpose.
  3. You get to know everyone. You memorize their names, their faces, their stories. You meet every teacher, you smile all the time, even when you don’t feel like smiling. You ask people questions and you listen to their answers. You invite people out, bring people treats. You work at being sincere and honest, but without hurting feelings. You try not to gossip. You hope to make forever friends.
  4. You always do your work for all your classes, plus you do extra work for yourself. You’re prepared. You put 100% of your energy into fifty different things, and it doesn’t ever feel like it’s good enough, but it has to be enough, because it’s all you have. You don’t get much sleep, but you get your stuff done in the nick of time, and you’re so relieved that you don’t care about how tired you are. You go get another coffee and head to class.
  5. You read all the time. You read at home and at school, at red lights, on the toilet. You read when your husband wants to have sex, when your dog needs to be walked, when every dish you own is dirty in the sink. You read all the things people recommend to you that make them vibrate with pleasure, but you also read all the things that make people fake vomit during conversations while drinking.
  6. You try to write. You want to write more. You realize, with all these other things going on, that you don’t have much time for actual writing. You think about the irony, of being in an MFA program, and not having time to write.
  7. Some days, you don’t do any of these things. Not a single one. Some days, you just get out of bed, pat yourself on the back, and make it through another day. Some days you turn off your phone and don’t talk to anyone, tell everyone to go away, go to hell, and you try to write, but instead you watch the entire last season of The Office, cry, and eat copious amounts of chocolate, then drink an entire bottle of wine. The next day you Facebook message everybody and apologize for your anti-social behavior.
  8. You think maybe you should just quit.
  9. You immediately realize that’s ridiculous.
  10. You get an email from your Program Director, Terry Thaxton, who’s pretty freaking awesome, reminding everyone that the key to being a writer is living a life of BALANCE. You go to a workshop taught by one of your professors, an incredible writer, Jamie Poissant, who tells everyone that above all else, make your priorities your health, your friends, your family, your love. You figure these people must know what they’re talking about. You realize that writing, aside from the physical act itself, is the product of all of these rich resources that are filling you up on a daily basis – your classes, your friends, your teachers, and all that freaking reading that, you’re sorry, but you just love, even when you hate it. So you do some dishes, you walk your dog, you spend some time with your husband, the poor guy, who’s been incredibly supportive of all your writerly whims. You go running, you do some yoga. You know that you can’t do everything, can’t be perfect. You smile. You look around. You realize that writing is the reason you’re here, but it’s not the reason for everything.

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