When I hear the term “fine arts,” I think of painting, sculpting, and other arts that I can do with my hands. Rarely do I think of creative writing as a fine art.
But it is. I make stories with my hands, my words, and my mind. I chose “scarlet” over “crimson” in a sentence because only one has the exact connotation I’m looking for. In those kinds of detailed moments, I become a painter that knows the difference between vermilion and blood.
When I write stories, I am an artist.
But do I need a graduate degree to tell me that?
What is an MFA?
A “Master of Fine Arts” degree is a graduate degree conferred to those who complete the required graduate-level coursework in their field of study at most universities and colleges. In some cases, it is also a terminal degree that allows you to teach in said field of study. To put it simply, it says that you are a “master” of the fine art you studied.
As of now, I’m currently applying to to Master of Fine Arts programs in Creative Writing. And I’m applying to them because I want to be a master of creative writing. I didn’t want to be a doctorate in English because as much as I loved English, I didn’t want to spend my entire life researching and reading it in some form. I loved writing it more.
But again, I ask, do I need such a graduate degree to tell me that I am an artist?
No, You and I Don’t Need an MFA.
Plenty of authors out there are successful and don’t have MFAs. Stephen King? Bachelors in English. Christopher Paolini? Graduated from high school, and sold his book then. Harper Lee? Law school dropout.
Every writer is different, just as every person is different. Nobody needs an MFA to write anything brilliant, entertaining, or funny. And no one will look down upon you for lacking one.
If I don’t happen to get into the MFA programs I applied to, I will not be sad.
Okay, I’ll be sad because of the time and effort I put in to applying. But… not overly sad.
Not having a degree will not stop me from getting writing done.
So… should I get one, if I don’t need one?
If you want two years of people critiquing your stuff, some time developed solely to your writing, and the possible opportunity to teach, get an MFA. Don’t just get it, because you think you have to get it.
If you feel like you don’t need one, don’t get one. It’s a personal choice and serious commitment.
And even if you do get in to a program, and find it’s not for you, don’t feel bad. You are figuring out who you are.
Do what feels right for you. Always.