Nothing builds confidence like seeing your picture under a headline in Galleycat (the Media Bistro blog) that reads “Bad Year for MFA Graduates.”
The blogger goes on to relate the sorrowful tale of ’08 MFAers in a flagging economy. Oh no, wait. That’s what he says we are doing.
Then there’s the comment from a “DorothyP:”
Why not combine poetry with a helping profession, such as medicine? Or banking? Or working in a customs house? I'd amazed at the number of recent MFAs who seem think that their art will sustain them body and soul, when in fact, the concept of a full-time poet or writer (without family money) is pretty recent. Maybe emptying some bedpans would make the world a better place than teaching some dreary undergrads.
Excuse me while I bolt posthaste to the St. Ignatius Home for the Infirm.
It’s true, though. I often wonder if I am doing anything for the world by writing. Maybe I have confused myself with Leo Tolstoy. What is the difference between an artist and a sad sack MFA grad? Who decides? When should I give up? After the twentieth lit mag rejection? After the 100th? How many times do I send out my book proposal before I go join a “helping profession?”
What, I’m not helping?
The problem is no one knows while they are writing if their work is a legitimate contribution to society or the indulgent musings of a selfish jerk. Maybe a tribunal should be set up to sort everyone out. You, novelist! You, go dump some poo!
I know that we don’t remember and love Wallace Stevens because he was a kickass investment banker. I also know you don’t want me anywhere near medical equipment.
To end on an up note, right before I posted I found this comment from The Wandering Reader.
I have no doubt that these three young ladies will be successful; while people always hope to have a career in writing or teaching after receiving their MFA, there are other things that can be done with a MFA in the meantime.
…it’s at times like these that writers need to band together. Good to see that the three young ladies featured in your post have started that process already.
Thanks, Wandering Reader! And I do have a teaching job. That requires a Master’s no less! (More on this later).