The Question of Graduate School

When I was accepted into the MFA program at the University of San Francisco in 2004, I was offered a merit scholarship as further evidence that I should definitely — definitely — be going to graduate school for my writing.

But then there were the kickers. 

For one, I was going to San Francisco (I don’t like San Francisco).  Two, I like the sun and wouldn’t be getting any.  Furthermore, I had to transfer my full-time job to our company’s San Francisco headquarters to make a living (my alarm was set at the cruel hour of 3 a.m. every day to get to work on the city bus system in time for market open back east).  And — in addition to moving in with two strangers and having no friends or family out there to lean on — my best distinction as a Coloradoan coming from a mile above sea level down to the cold slap of the Bay was that I could drink everyone under the table for the first two months I was there.  And I’m not even much of a drinker!

After a week-long panic attack following the realization that I had made an astonishingly bad decision, I quit the program before it even started, settled down to lick my wounds, and then — lo and behold — started to write.  And ended up writing the majority of a novel during my time there.

All my blessings to the faculty and staff of graduate-level writing programs.  Best wishes to the dedicated students who complete them and go on to produce great work.  And yes, not everyone has the same clumsy experience I did.

So the question is really less about getting an MFA in order to advance a career, but more about your intentions around your writing.  Some people need the program as a next step; others find a desk and a chair and do what needs to be done on their own time. 

I was the latter.  All I needed to do was write.

(Dedicated to my eventual SF friends, who made life during those almost-seven months sweetly bearable:  Anne, Carolina, Cheryl, Eliza, Elsie, Geoff, Ingrid and Jason.)

2 thoughts on “The Question of Graduate School

  1. A good point – and equally valid for all those aspiring entrepreneurs out there who think that the first step is to get an MBA. I’m with you on SF. I lasted a year.. and I didn’t even have to get up at 3am.

  2. Nice website, Manda Moo. I love your picture and the style of handwriting that is your name. Ahh, I always look at the artistic side of things, don’t I? I also, would love to get my hands on a copy of that book!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s