To MFA or Not? The Back-To-School Special | Fiction School Podcast #36

To MFA or Not? The Back-To-School Special | Fiction School Podcast #36

So, we took the summer off.  We’re sorry.  No, we’re not–it was GREAT–but it’s also great to be back.  Thanks for your emails asking us if we were still alive, still friends, still podcasting.  Yes, yes, and yes.

To kick off Season Two as we go back to school, we talk about going back to school, MFA style.

We got a good question from listener Andrea:

What are the benefits of getting an MFA or joining writers’s workshops? Do you think it’s necessary to writing? And along the same lines, how has teaching influenced your own writing?

On this episode, we bring in our first Fiction School correspondent, Meg Flannery, who overcame being Tommy’s student and is starting the MFA program at Southern Illinois University.

Tommy and Baker also reminisce about our MFA years at the University of Alabama and the ways it has affected our writing and careers since finishing.  Basically: Roll Tide!

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MFA students begin practicing their writing craft at the back-to-school party.

On the show, we talk about why writers might choose to pursue an MFA in creative writing, where to learn about MFA programs (and the especially helpful Seth Abramson), what’s important to look for in MFA Programs…*cough cough funding! cough ahem*.
Then we chew on how the MFA degree qualifies you to teach, but you don’t need an MFA to be a writer. There are some real benefits of the time in a writing program, but there’s some risks, too. We name a few famous writers who don’t have MFAs (Shakespeare, Faulkner, Hemingway, et. al.) and talk about the way teachers and fellow students affect your experience in an MFA program. Competition between writers also comes up, as well as ways that choosing your location carefully can help your MFA experience. Then Meg gives us advice she’s learned in her first four days in MFA school–“Don’t take things personally.” Always good advice–she’s learning quickly, that one.

So that’ll do it for the back-to-school kickoff of Season Two of Fiction School.  We’re glad to be back, y’all–drop us a review or rating on iTunes, if you can, please! Those matter a lot, and we really appreciate it.

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