2017, Archives, September 2017, The MFA Years

Preslaysa Williams Introduction (Seton Hill University)

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I applied to a MFA program in Fiction to salvage a long-lost dream and save my creative life.

Close to twenty years ago when I was an undergraduate, I had set a goal to earn my MFA. I’d planned to earn an MFA right after college. After getting my MFA, I’d planned to embark on my life as an artist.

But life doesn’t always work according to plan.

After earning my undergraduate degree, I earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I later secured a job in government. I had figured I’d put my cute little creative itch on the back burner and focus on my “real” career.

A few years into working a nine-to-five, I was soul-restless and unhappy. I needed to pursue art and so I took up writing nine years ago. I’ve been pursuing a writing career ever since. So why pursue a MFA with years of writing experience under my belt?

I wanted to keep the promise I’d made to myself all those years ago. Also, I’ve been on the brink of a creative crisis. I was feeling disillusioned and discouraged with my writing journey. I wanted to surround myself with supportive, like-minded people. I wanted to be in a safe environment with other writers, teachers, and mentors. I wanted to rediscover my passion for writing in a community where I could dive deep into my creative work and explore my authentic voice.

I set about the task of applying to Seton Hill University’s MFA program. I didn’t have any other program in mind when I applied. I liked Seton Hill’s focus on genre fiction, but when it was time to write a short description of my thesis novel, I froze. Should I write a story that will “sell” or should I write a story that represented me? I remembered my reasons for applying for the program: my need to rediscover my artist self. A story idea had been lingering in the back of my mind, and so I sketched it, not worrying about its marketability.

The more I described this idea on paper, the more secure I felt in the direction I was going. I wasn’t only secure in the direction of this idea; I was secure in becoming a MFA student, a student who will be embarking on her tenth year as a writer.

My original, fast-track-to-being-an-artist plan ended up being a long journey. A journey filled with highs and lows and disappointments and delights. I wouldn’t trade my experience because I’m entering my MFA program as a seasoned and trained writer. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do the work that’ll take me to higher levels of artistry. I’m looking forward to stepping into the writing “lab” to begin, again.