Got the MFA. Now what?
I suppose I assumed the fortune and glory would start pretty much immediately after defending my thesis. I mean, I did the work, right? I’ve pounded out hundreds of thousands of words. Cut, polished, and primed them into a lovely little novel. But what’s changed with me? I still seem to be the same.
Maybe it’s kind of like being Born Again.
When you convert to Evangelicalism, you are considered a new person even if you don’t feel different. Your perspective is new. Your priorities are reordered. You learn to endure, even delight in, esoteric rituals and readings—there is a skill to sitting quietly with your community, remembering an event none of you were there for, discerning it in words and the shared wine and bread.
Deconstruction™ is similar; everything is new. Values shift, painfully. Your community changes. There’s nothing easy there, but it gives power, too. The power to grow your own meaning, like tomatoes on the balcony. The power to prune and repent of sinful beliefs and practices that you’ve never been able to get rid of before. Perspective.
But we’re talking about an MFA here—being Born Again as a Master of writing. I think I can picture this the same way. I have learned to work through this strange art for hours on end, even when it hurts, and I hate it. I value readings and the furtherance of good writing. The very costly effort that was required to gain this title has deepened my approach to the craft.
So, I’m glad I finished this, even though nothing has changed except my perspective. Because that’s kind of everything.