Alcestis Austin Books Graduate school Historical fiction Killingly Readings Teaching Writing

MFAs, bisexuality, and an announcement

First up, a link to a great post on the eternal MFA question. I’m directing four senior independent study projects this year, all in creative writing. None of my students will be going directly to graduate school for creative writing, though three of them are considering applying in the future. Their projects are due at the end of March, and we don’t meet weekly after that as we have all year, so we’ve been having conversations about grad school.

Robin Black shares criteria for deciding whether an MFA is right for you, and they’re not all precisely what you might expect. I think Black’s right to say that student temperament is incredibly important (though maybe difficult to self-evaluate, which is why it’s always helpful to talk to advisers and friends about this choice). I would put even more emphasis than Black does on the cost of the degree, though. Repeat after me: you should NEVER go into debt to get a graduate degree unless you’re certain it will lead to a decent-paying job upon completion. If you’re in the humanities, you simply can’t be certain. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to grad school — I’m very glad I did! — but that, as Black suggests, you should know the costs and benefits involved in your own situation.

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Second: a link to another great post, or essay, really — Seth Fischer’s “Notes from a Unicorn” at The Rumpus. Seth is bi; so am I. This is one of the best and most thoughtful approaches to the topic I’ve read, illuminating not only the author’s own experience of bisexual identity as a man but the ways bisexuality is often obscured by straight people and gay rights activists alike. Whatever your sexual orientation, please go read this.

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And finally, a quick announcement: I’ll be reading at the University of Texas on March 21, at 4 pm in Parlin 301. I’ll talk a bit about Alcestis, since some of the audience may be students who are currently reading it in class, but the reading will focus mostly on Killingly. If you’re in the Austin area, I’d love to see you there. (And if I know personally, email me and we’ll talk dinner plans.)

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