Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why an MFA in Creative Writing?

   You might be contemplating an MFA experience and going through all the questions typical of making this life changing decision. It's true that you don't need an MFA in creative writing to be a writer, but an MFA opens the doors to incredible possibilities. Not only do you get to focus on your craft, you get the mentorship of professional writers caring about your work. I didn't quite understand this until I started the Hamline MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults. 

   When I was first shopping around for programs, I was having a hard time finding something that seemed to fit what I wanted. My interests were in picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction. I believed that attending a program that offered a more general MFA would be fine, but once I discovered what Hamline offered, I was hooked. I never imagined that the facuilty and fellow MFAC students would be ... just like me.

    Imagine a gathering of people, from all over the country, that are interested in the same thing you are. We all come from different backgrounds, but those little quarks that make grown adults love children's literature, bring us together. Yes, we own replica mockingjay pins, and yes, some of us paint our houses like the one from UP.      

   Whatever your interests are, finding the MFA program that fits your needs will open the doors to people just like you. It is a fantastic feeling to be able to reach out to others in the program; to receive the support, and understanding, needed to continue on. Plus, you gain the opportunity to network with professionals, and future professionals in your field of interest.

   So when you are investigating a writing program, look deep inside yourself, and ask what is it that you truly love to write. Find the program that matches those interests and you just might find your people. 
A conversation with Gene Yang, author of American Born Chinese, and newest Hamline faculty member


  1. That cartoon is AWESOME. And the cafeteria was usually where I ran into Gene too! Man, I'm going to miss Hamline now that I've graduated.

  2. I certainly found my people at Hamline! Getting my MFA gave me gifts I didn't even know I was seeking. Most importantly, working with students and faculty at Hamline helped me to understand what it means to be a working artist... the importance of both working hard and of playing often.

  3. Wise words, Nina. Thanks for your thoughtful post. For me, the benefits of Hamline’s MFA were immense, too. Through Hamline, I learned what I needed to know more quickly than I could have done on my own, and I had the opportunity to study with talented and successful authors in our field of children’s literature alongside like-minded fellow students. I now have the tools that, for me, are essential to best write what I love to write, and I’ve become connected to a rich and diverse community of authors. Completing Hamline’s MFAC was a true game changer for me.

  4. Hi! Thanks for defending the MFA. I have an MFA from Colorado State University. Most of the time when I say I have an MFA, people say, an MF what? But that's okay. I am proud of my degree, even though it means I don't make any money. It's more of a lifetime pursuit of a craft. Also remember that not just anyone gets into MFA programs. I think those who pursue such a degree have already been writing all their lives. Writing is indeed a practical skill that is relevant even in today's technology age. That's one thing that drives me crazy: the assumption that writers don't have any practical skills to offer the world. One quick survey of the horrible grammar and spelling in comments on an online news article shows that writers do indeed have practical skills that can make the world a better place. Communication is key, as always.

    Another important component of the MFA degree is the honest critiquing you get from workshops. That was one of the most valuable things that I received through the MFA; in this setting, people are painfully honest. You can't get honest feedback from friends and family. :)