Just the other day I was reading EW’s list of the 50 new classic books. As I read through the list, I was amazed by the breadth and depth of the books. And I was saddened by the fact that I have yet to be published and thus am not anywhere close to being put on anyone’s “best of” list.
So, for the first time, I decided that I need to get an MFA.
Now, just to clue you in, lately I’ve had many a whimsical idea, so this particular one holds no more weight than the others. But it did cross my mind. My general opinion of the MFA institution is that I don’t want to pay someone just so I can write. Plus, very few writers can pay the bills solely by writing, so I see the importance of conditioning myself to write (as I have) in addition to having a full-time job.
However, a few things occurred to me while I read the EW list. One, although I think my writing has improved by writing and reading (in that order), I have a long way to go. If I were already a great writer, 13 literary magazines probably wouldn’t have rejected my short stories this past winter. Maybe I can learn something from those MFA professors out there.
Two, maybe I don’t have to pay someone to write. Maybe I can get a scholarship or a fellowship. Maybe.
Three, perhaps the biggest reason, if writing is so important to me, why am I so unwilling to give myself a significant amount of time to do that and only that? Maybe I’m never going to write a great novel or even a great story or essay, but why not give myself the chance and the environment to give it a go? I don’t really know the answer. I think part of it is that I like to work. I like to get paid. Getting an MFA seems a step back from all the steps forward I’ve taken during my post-collegiate career. But I’m also a huge supporter of my own happiness, so I’d be willing to give myself that.
Maybe it’s just a passing whimsy, or maybe it’s something more. It would be for Fall ’09 or even Winter ’10, so I’ve got some time to think about it. The other cool thing about the MFA is that I could do it anywhere—most universities have an MFA program. I’d want a halfway decent one, but I’m sure I could find one in almost any city.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to publish one of my existing short stories on Amazon’s new Digital Text Platform. Go ahead, go to www.amazon.com and search for Jamey Stegmaier. You’ll see my story pop up. You’ll also see that you can only buy it for your Kindle, so the story will only cost you $360.80 if you need to buy the Kindle ($360) with the story ($.80).
It’s self-publishing at its easiest. I won’t be doing this with many of my short stories, but it’s worth a shot to see if Kindle owners actually have a way of finding such stories and are interested in buying them for such a low price. We’ll see. It’s a lot cheaper than getting an MFA, that’s for sure.