To Degree or Not to Degree

My niece, bless her heart, wants to grow up to be a writer/illustrator. I’ve not sugar coated the profession (the writer part) in the least and yet that is what she wants. Does she want to be one because I am (kinda sorta) and therefore it is a viable option? Or does she want to be one because that is what she truly wants? Only Princess knows for sure.

Sometimes I see an article about writing and I think “Hey, Princess would want to read this.” but most of the time the articles are way way over her head. She is, after all, only 11 (soon to be 12). I came across and article today that I went ahead and sent her the link to. It is one discussing the arguments about whether or not a MFA degree has been good or bad for literature as a whole. Some say it has only made it better. Others argue it has only made cookie cutter novels better.

Here’s what I sent Princess:

As you prepare for thinking about college, here’s something to think about.

http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2011/05/17/mfa_programs/index.html

What it basically is arguing is whether MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in creative writing has been good or bad for literature as a whole.

I’m kinda split on the topic. On the one hand, one shouldn’t need a Masters degree in order to produce a novel. Either you can or you can’t write and a Masters isn’t going to help you much on that. However, the more I write, the more I wish I knew. Not about how to write in terms of plot, characters, etc, but I wish I knew more about sentence structure, verb agreement, and just what the heck a dangling participle is. Would a MFA give me that? Maybe. But so does classes at local community colleges. And goodness knows the bookstore shelves are full of “how to be a writer” books.

And it’s true. I wish I did know more about various grammar stuff. Spelling isn’t a priority but sometimes I wish I could write better sentences and I certainly wish I knew bigger words! Sometimes it takes me two sentences to explain in what someone else could say in two or three words. I’m not an idiot. I have a BA (behavioral science) and an AA (production crafts). And yes, I got them in that order. Sometimes I think about going back to school to get a MFA just so I can continue learning and perhaps hone my craft some. But then I think, nah, all that money wasted! Instead, I look at the online courses A-B Tech offers or I buy yet another ‘how to be a writer’ book.