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.

8 thoughts on “To Degree or Not to Degree

  1. OK, on the not so off chance of seeming like an idiot, these are my thoughts on that subject. 🙂 1- when i was 8 i wanted to be a vet. When i was 12 I wanted to be a teacher. When i was 16 i wanted to be a chef. Now Im 30 and still have no REAL clue as to what I want to do( I do know i want out of my current hell). My point is that as you get older, generally your ambitions and goals change. 2- As for the degree, my advice to you is to maybe try a creative writing class. ive been thinking about it since we spoke the other night. I think, no I know, that you are a wonderful, gifted, creative, and intelligent writer. Maybe a creative writing class, even an online correspondance, would teach you a few of the things you want to learn without all the money tied into it. And who knows, maybe it will also help with the , ummmmmmm, funk? ( maybe the right word ) that youve been in with your writing recently. Give you other avenues to explore. 3- Dont yell at me because I didnt spell check or check my punctuations.

  2. Seriously, I see your point. I actually do take classes and, at the moment, have an excellent DVD set on sentence structure and stuff.

  3. Oh, and hey Matheus! I’ve been extremely busy and then ill. I hope to be back today or tomorrow. How’s your druid?

  4. My druid is a little slow, mostly because Fonlithien itself is stopped, then I’m working more on the other server. I even created a Tauren Warrior there… hahaha…

  5. If I wanted to ruin my free style, I’d grammar check everything I write. But then, we have very different styles. I write in the first person, so I write like I would talk — split infinitives and all.

    You, on the other hand, are a narrator. I can see where you’d be more inclined to want to “get it right.”

    But your niece, if she wants to start writing now, don’t put any limits on her creativity. Who cares if everything is punctuated right. Give her a beautiful journal and encourage her to fill it.

  6. She currently is writing what I would consider fanfiction. But I’ve not read anything of hers in a while. She is part of the journalism club at her school, too, so she writes for them. I encourage her to learn her own voice but to also know she has a long time to find that. She is more into her art right now.

    See, what the hell is a ‘split infinitive’??

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