Well, it’s official! As of May 21, I’m officially terminal. Degreed, that is. Hooded robes. Cowhide in frames. After nearly two years, I’m now the proud holder of a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing degree from Spalding University. For those who don’t know (and don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either until I asked just what exactly did “terminal degree” mean…I mean, I wasn’t ready to die or anything like that), an MFA is a “terminal degree” in the same way a PhD is. What that means, is that I’ve gotten the highest education available specific to WRITING. Tis the end of the road. Yes, I could have gotten a PhD in Creative Writing…the difference would have been with the PhD I would have had to have had a lot of extra “fluff” courses to go with it. Things like Literature and foreign languages. But because I knew Writing was where I wanted to be, I didn’t need all that extra stuff.
The funny thing about that is, I’d been accepted into a PhD program for Creative Writing. However, after a 4 hour meeting with the director, he said I didn’t need a PhD, and that I needed to find an MFA program instead. It would be faster and serve the same purpose. The difference for me now (with degree in hand) is that I need to focus on publishing!
So, I’m excited to be done so that I can insert myself into an already crowded job market. I’ve had one near miss (was in the top 3…but didn’t get the offer) and am still on the short list for a couple that I’m very interested in. Plus, I’m still finding announced positions and applying as I discover them.
But I’m also saddened because the Spalding MFA program is such a fantastic program and I will miss the learning, encouragement, camaraderie and feeling of community that Spalding residencies foster. It’s a very “comfortable” place, even though the residencies are grueling days and hours! At my last residency, I had the opportunity to write and direct a short film. What an incredible experience. The University should be posting those soon and when they do, you can bet I’ll be floating the link all over the place. It’s a considerably altered/adapted scene from the opening of my novel, The Interns (which I’m considering renaming to Mississippi Needs Super-Heroes, Too. I’d welcome your thoughts on the titles)…which is now in my agent’s hands! Woo-hoo!
I would publicly encourage anyone and everyone who’s considered further writing education to look into the Spalding MFA program. It is a “low residency” program, which means your time physically on the Louisville, KY campus is limited. Most of the work is done from home. It’s great for the non-tradition student—basically, those with a real life which often consists of jobs and families and responsibilities and such. Not that traditional students don’t have those…yeah, okay, they usually don’t have them.
Anyway, we called PhD holders “Doctor”…so, you may now officially refer to me as “Master Mann”