I’ve been feeling a lot more upbeat about not going anywhere this year, mainly because it gives me a chance to take it a little easier, to try and find work, and to see if immigration reform is possible this year. Right now, I’m operating under the assumption that I won’t be applying to any MFA programs for next year. I thought about the number of MFA students out there ever year, and it’s a bit staggering. In some ways, the system is huge. An average of nine thousand students a year come out of MFA programs (thirty students at the average program multiplied by 300 programs). What do they do after they finish? Here’s a good example.
I ignored or didn’t get good advice until late in the application season. I didn’t apply to many fully funded programs, with the exception of Iowa and Montana (and possibly Houston). I accepted the offer of a program which would have me pay seventeen thousand dollars a year for a somewhat worthless degree. I went in with good intentions, and I’m leaving with them. I’m happy for everyone who is in a program this year, because there’s nothing like workshopping with other writers. For my part, not going to a program has motivated me much more than any workshop could have. If I apply again, I’ll only be applying to fully funded programs, or programs where I can get enough funding to get by. I really do think now that it is foolish to pay for an MFA, just as many people had told me.
My plans are such: to apply for the MacDowell Colony residency and the Jentel residency, the deadlines for both of which are September 15th. I have also been checking out lesser known online publications to see if I could submit work to them. Frankly, I’m disappointed by the quality of work I see in some of these. It’s also an eye-opening experience to read a wonderful piece and then to see that even though the author has gone to the same program I would have gone to (he graduated in the 70s), he is pretty much unknown. It puts a dent into all those expectations of being discovered after writing great work. In some way, this is the time when I have to figure out why I write.
I really hope I can visit Berkeley before the end of the year. I have many unresolved issues with the city.
I started a new piece today. I’m writing in pen now, rather than on the computer, because there are fewer distractions. Sitting at Starbucks lets me focus and relax, although, sadly, my Zune headphones no longer function, so I can’t listen to any music besides the Starbucks radio.
Things aren’t terrible at home, mainly because my father isn’t here. Mostly, everything is just okay. Today I felt really happy, maybe because I have deadlines and things to do and there are opportunities open to me that weren’t open to me before. I feel content. I’m thinking positively.