So El Serenito thinks I should pursue the non-fiction creative writing MFA because there's more $ in NF. I agree. I have bought and read enough non-fiction in books and magazines myself to prove it. But, a small part of me demands, you've spent a long time doing what is 'practical' or what could be seen on the outside as ambitious or successful--becoming an Executive Director (before I was ready, perhaps), making fundraising my non-profit career, getting on boards of orgs (partially to boost my resume wattage). What about your heart? What does your heart want you to do?
Well, that's where it gets a little confusing. I've loved writing and reading fiction since I was a child. I wrote my first 'story' when I was about six (maybe younger?), a hand-stapled, crayon-and-pencil affair that told of a (surprise) six-year-old girl's daily adventures. But isn't that, in a sense, a work of creative non-fiction? Sure, the girl's name wasn't Rona and I did make up some things, but she was still based on me, a real person. And while things have changed a lot for me creatively--I'm working on a fantasy/sci-fi novel right now and have started a few other stories that are mostly fictional/fantasy--I still feel that my writing is strongest when I'm writing from an intimate place of knowledge, about my life, or the people I know.
I may have only just realized it this week, but I've always loved non-fiction. And I've always loved fiction. So which one do I choose? Practically speaking, the non-fiction MFA would probably prove more lucrative in the long-term. But will it nurture me more as a writer and an artist? Or would learning how to craft really fine fiction be just as practical in the long-term, even if I end up writing mostly non-fiction? These are some of the questions I intend to pose to the MFA grads, candidates and other writers I'm hooking up with in the next few weeks, and to the program staff themselves when I do my tour of the schools I'm thinking of applying to. They may not have all the answers for me, but hopefully they can give me some information about their own processes which will help me find the key to my own creative longings.
And, of course, there is still the 'no MFA' route, which Bino and many, many others whose writings I admire have taken. I mean, could I really deal with being in school again after 10 years of being out? Will I find a program that is supportive enough of my needs as a writer of color (or at least a program where there are enough supportive students of color)? It's all still up in the air for me.
And through it all, I'm still writing, and writing, and writing. Can't ever stop writing, 'cuz that's what it's all about.
Wall Street Journal: Thursday, 22 June 2017
9 hours ago