What my MFA program gave me.

This is where our residencies are held.

On Saturday, I graduated from my MFA program in Mystic, Connecticut. We had one more day at the residency, and now, I’m settling down to eat some lunch and do some laundry at home. I want to reflect on the program in a post, but because I’m still a little fried from 10 days of workshops, seminars, heavy drinking and various other writing-related activities, a proper blog post is beyond my abilities.

Luckily, yesterday I took a seminar, given by Porochista Khakpour, on experimental writing, and now I don’t feel the need to adhere to traditional forms.

So here, in no particular order, is a list of some of  of the things I’ve gained from Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts program on Enders Island in Mystic:


An MFA in Creative Writing, with a concentration in creative fiction

Five pounds

At least 100 Facebook friends

At least 10 really close friends

The pleasure of working with four talented published authors, who mentored me and read my work

The pleasure of having workshops with nine other published professors, and of taking seminars from many more

The honor of drinking a lot of Crane Lake table wine with almost every professor in the program, whether I worked with them or not

The company of poets

Several short stories that I might be able to publish

Two that I did/will publish

A trio of ill-conceived poems, inspired by Crane Lake table wine, sleepless nights and the company of poets

An article

Writing groups

Hundreds of bug bites

Dark circles under my eyes

A deep aversion to salads

The knowledge that my liver can still take abuse

A rudimentary understanding of LinkedIn

A first draft of a novel

The understanding that there is a big difference between the first draft of a novel and something that is good enough to show to an agent/publisher/my mother

The knowledge that I have to interview at least six drag queens in order for my novel to work

A funny-looking cap and gown and hood

Resilience during workshops

The ability to at least be quiet during workshop if I can’t be resilient

A love of strong verbs

An almost Pavlovian response to seeing bottles of Crane Lake table wine

50 other ideas for other novels that I can’t pursue until I hand this piece to an agent/publisher/my mother

Student loans that will come due any second now

A few connections

Some pointers on living my life after the MFA

A suspicion that life post-MFA will be a lot like life during the MFA, only without monthly packets and with student loans

The chance to see Wally Lamb, Sue Silverman, Mary Karr, Charles Simic, Philip Schultz and Rick Moody as they read from their work.

The haunting phrase, “Go get the eggs, you dwarf,” courtesy of Rick Moody’s reading in 2009.

An aversion to adverbs

A very, very long list of books I want to read

A long list of books that I have read

The knowledge that I may die at a very old age without having been able to read every book mentioned by every person I met at the program

The experience of being a fiction reader for Mason’s Road journal

The experience of being a T.A.

Two years of predetermined plans on New Year’s Eve

An ability to follow my bliss

Thank you, Fairfield University. This was exactly what I needed.

12 thoughts on “What my MFA program gave me.

    • Hey Erin. You meant Teaching Assistant, right? The teaching assistant position was offered within the program itself, so that graduating students could have some experience as student teachers.

  1. Obviously, you were paying attention in Porochista’s seminar on experimental writing …. this is a great post! Congratulations on graduation and good luck with whatever post-MFA life reveals …..

  2. To be all selfish-like, there are many things that we your readers also got out of your time MFA’in’ (and wow, that really should be dirty…). Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s