Sunday, August 31, 2008

From Our Emailbox

As graduates of a full-time, on-site MFA programme, I was wondering if you have any opinions about low-residency MFA programmes, or if you know anyone who has tried one?

Also, if you had already published a couple of books, would you have found an MFA programme useful, or would you have skipped it, or simply pursued some other educational option?

I have a few friends who have done low-residency MFA programs, mostly through Vermont College, and they have all said wonderful things about it. To my knowledge, none of them were published beforehand, and they have all been published since (not that I'm using that as a measure of success, it's just a piece of info). I liked the on-site program at New School, mainly because I met so many great writers who are now my friends. I also liked all of the events that New School hosted, as it gave me an opportunity to meet authors, editors and agents. Low-res programs do offer these things during their two-week residencies, but it's not the same as two full semesters each year.

As for your second question, it's tricky to answer without knowing why exactly you're considering an MFA. If you've already published several books, then you obviously know a few things about the business and write well enough to publish. However, the MFA may still be useful to you, as it helps you improve your writing by way of real, substantive critique, it gives you deadlines, and you'll have a graduate degree (which you might want if you plan to teach). But it is time consuming and costly. Only you can decide if it's worth it for you.

I was an inexperienced writer and a newbie to children's publishing when I began my MFA, so for me it was a journey worth taking!

*caroline hickey