Last week my Twitter stream lit up with reviews and excerpts and analysis of a book called MFA vs NYC. It wasn’t quite a #sharknado level of traffic — closer, perhaps, to #amtrakresidency — but it was still undeniable: something about this book was grabbing the attention of writers all up and down the line.
But what I think we need to talk about today isn’t really that book. It’s the perception of that book, and my worry that writers will see the dichotomy MFA vs NYC as some sort of choice we’re all forced to make.
Jennifer Weiner very smartly put it this way:
Biggest issue with MFA vs NYC argument — no acknowledgment that vast majority of authors don't go either route. http://t.co/B1Ttozwl0f
— Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) February 26, 2014
Writers: you do not need an MFA. You do not need to live in NYC. As a matter of fact, although I think all paths to writerdom are valid and there is nothing to gain by telling other people what to do, if you said to me “I want to move to New York and live by my wits alone so I can be a real writer!” my immediate reply would be OMG DO NOT DO THAT YOU ARE NUTS.
The funny thing is, I have to admit: I have an MFA. And I live in NYC. (Worse, even; brownstone Brooklyn! Ready the pitchforks and kale!) And yet neither had much at all to do with my road to publication, and I would not necessarily recommend either to writers looking to a) write an amazing book and b) get that book into the hands of as many readers as possible. [Read more…]