(Score! Shortest. Column. Ever.)
But here’s what happens if you ask the question in a slightly different way.
Question: Could you benefit from an MFA?
Answer: Almost definitely.
A little background: My senior year of college, I applied to the most selective MFA programs in the country. They politely rejected me. The following year, I decided I wanted to be in Washington, D.C., and when I applied to American University’s MFA program, they were kind enough to let me in. I graduated two years later with a bright shiny new degree and a much more developed sense of craft.
Ten years later, I’d had a few short stories and poems published in literary magazines (including the pretty darn reputable North American Review), but despite near-constant submission of my novels to agents and publishers over that decade, and dozens of near-misses, I still hadn’t sold a novel.
Getting an MFA will not get you published. Period.
That said, knowing what I know now, would I have done this differently? Probably not. I look back very fondly on my years at American. Full-time enrollment in a writing program was a huge, huge learning opportunity for me. I became a much better writer. I finished my first novel, something I’d never managed to do when my focus was split between writing and classes, or writing and working full-time. Getting the first one done in grad school taught me I could do it. Later I learned how better to balance writing with other demands on my time, but I needed that first one under my belt so I knew what I was shooting for.
What else happened over those two years? [Read more…]