Community and Beyond

I think we all ask it.

Should I get an MFA?

I’ve tried to do research to see if I actually want to go back to school to pursue another degree. Currently, I have a BA in English from a decent university (which got me at least 0 jobs) and a computer programming degree from a community college which is how I’ve made a living since.

There is some advice on how to fake an MFA which is what I have considered. The scary thing to my introverted, fearful, and socially awkward self is the part that I most need. Community.

I need and no longer just want to feel like I am a part of a like-minded, equally striving (sometimes failing) people who want to write. And want to become better writers.

Or I could just form a community of all my characters…but that’s a mental health concern, nm.

However, community scares me, not because I haven’t been a part of one in a while, but because of the destruction that they have the potential to cause. While I have yet to read Mark McGurl’s book on creative writing workshops, I do feel his sentiment that the workshop possesses a shameful, embarrassing experience and one of redemption through revisions. (I’ve read a few of the book’s reviews). Also, reading the works of my professors as “assignments” and knowing that it was contributing to their book sales and incomes (vertical integration). But that’s not really my problem with university learning, I never had a community to call my own or that worked towards the best interests of anyone.

Even now I can only see the girl in my creative writing class that for the LOVE OF GOD would not stop twirling her pen. The students were divided because it was the month before the presidential election between Obama and McCain. It had polarized all the classrooms, the campus and my creative writing class. Our professor talked more about her admiration for Obama than for any measure of our papers. In addition, the only “open republican” got verbally abused by his liberal neighbors – calling him “stupid” and his choices bad. All which would have been ok, somewhere other than a classroom environment and if the teacher hadn’t been involved with the bullying.

I didn’t feel supported in that class and I knew my work was better than what they were telling me it was. But enough negative reviews on papers and people who wouldn’t google search words they didn’t understand or places they hadn’t heard of, it just made me feel ignored, stifled, and once again well of creativity was drained. Revisioning our papers never happened due to lack of time – the most redemptive potential of the writing class and my creative spirit, nullified. And that’s unfortunately, what they remained, papers, never creative works, or even stories.

Current expectations (and earlier expectations of college life).

But I’m not without hope of finding a community and people who want the same things from their writing. I pray that my expectations can adjust to my reality.

Slightly more realistic reactions to my writing in workshops.


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