Honestly? I never thought about life after the MFA. It was a means to an end, and getting in was a goal to get me through a time in my life that I didn’t know how to muddle through on my own.
I remember the first conversation I had about graduate school:
- Me: Tell me what to do to get into grad school.
- T: Well, start by looking up programs. Figure out what you need, what you want, who will pay you. Don’t go if they don’t pay you.
I started looking in an almost passive manner. And then, after everything went to hell, I became more manic about it.
- Me: (paraphrased) I need a thing. I have a hole and I need to fill it.
- T: You can take time off if you want; the choice is yours. I’m behind you whatever you decide.
- Me: (paraphrased) I need a thing.
- T: Research graduate schools, and report back what you find.
So I did. Her advice worked. I was rejected by some schools; I was accepted by others. I read the books of all of the advisors of my possible programs, and I settled on The New School. I had all of these grand plans of what it would be like to be a writer after the MFA.
- write book
- publish book
- have glamorous writer job
After the MFA is none of these things.
- I’m a dog walker/trainer. As previously established, I love this and I’m great at it, but it’s not what I thought I’d do. I’m okay with it, and I’ll keep doing it, because it works great with writing. But, again. Not what I thought I’d do.
- I wrote a book. It’s being read by people. But, as my past endeavors have taught me, it’s not good enough. And it’s not ready. It will be soon though. Actually, I lied; it’s pretty great.
- Publish? Under my real name? Say WHAT? Publishing has the following issues:
- The book is all true.
- I still haven’t settled on the pen name issue.
- He’s out there, today.
It’s here, this thing in my life I never accounted for, this thing I knew would happen someday but I didn’t let myself think about. Grad school was a means to an end, but now it’s done.
Getting my MFA bought me time. Question is, was it enough to break away? Did I buy myself enough time; have I become the person that I want to be apart from him? I am 32 years old. Do I know who I am now, at least enough to be that person? My person?
Are my words enough? My book? Am I invisible? I want to be. Do I want to be?
Question: Am I enough?
Answer: Who we are is what comes out when things go bad. You can’t tell anything about a person when things are great. You only really know someone when everything’s gone to hell.
Answer: I have to be.
Welcome to after the MFA.