To MFA or Not to MFA... To MFA

After much thought, I’ve decided to pursue an MFA—or at least try to get into a program that will work for me and my family. I’ve begun the process of putting together a portfolio of some of my writing that I consider to be my best work, and I’ve drafted statements of purpose.

Applying for MFA programs is an intimidating process. Am I good enough? That’s the question that haunts me. A lot. Anyone who knows about writing knows that rejection comes frequently. For me, this summer has been rejection season. I have, I think, four or five different stories out on submission, and they just aren’t landing. I revised them recently and sent them back out, so here’s hoping. I know that many rejections are not about the quality of the work and are, instead, about what a particular journal is looking for. Still, though, it sometimes gets to you. (I have my collection out at a handful of places, and it hasn’t been rejected yet. I’m taking that as good news. And I’m hopeful.)

Also, I wonder if my writing is too weird for traditional programs. I mean, I write about monsters and the uncanny. Will that hurt my chances? Will it not really matter at the end of the day? I feel that my writing looks at universal human issues. The magic is there just to give it a frame.

Getting into the Sewanee School of Letters at The University of the South would be a dream come true. I love Sewanee, and the possibility of being immersed in literature and writing for six weeks during the summer sounds like a slice of heaven on earth. The University of New Orleans and Eastern Kentucky also have my eye. Who knows, though, how it will go or even if it will.

One thing is certain: If I don’t try, it won’t happen, and I’m not one to just sleep on a dream…

Bradley Sides