Recap: “Should I Get an MFA?” Panel Discussion

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Despite last night’s unseasonal temperatures (when will it end?), a healthy number of people stopped by Next Door for our panel “Should I Get an MFA?” Writer and editor Kathleen Rooney, writer Marty McConnell, and editor Danny Parra offered great insight into MFA programs, the relationship between creative writing programs and the publishing industry, and the different paths to success that writers can take. Here are some of the highlights:

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1) Literary citizenship is important: Building a network is one of the great benefits of pursuing an MFA, but Kathleen also mentioned being a good literary citizen–in other words, of supporting and participating in your local literary community. All three panelists agreed that you don’t need an MFA to become part of the writing scene. Take courses, go to readings, connect online with like-minded writers!

2) The creative writing program that’s right for you is the one that’s right for you: In other words, ranking and prestige can be nice, but finding a great professor in a lesser-known program or taking advantage of full-funding might be better in the long run.

3) There’s no specific path to becoming a successful writer: An MFA doesn’t guarantee publishing, and there are plenty of writers who have never had any formal training. With our without an MFA, a writing career can be incredibly satisfying, but it involves a ton of hard work.

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Thanks to Next Door, Northwestern University’s MA/MFA in Creative Writing Program,  our panelists and attendees for a lovely event!

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