Writer working Main More than a few MFA teachers talk about the politics of their English departments in such a way that it sounds like an episode of House of Cards. Criticizing students, fellow teachers, the program, or even the effectiveness of creative writing programs in general — it has to be a careful dance. One ex-teacher, now freed of such considerations, has let it rip in an article called "Things I can say about MFA writing programs now that I no longer teach in one."

In his article for The Stranger, Ryan Boudinot says: “I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.”

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Is it possible to make your own MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing? Probably not, but we outline a plan that will make you a better writer if you stick with it long enough.

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We vividly remember singular events: a wedding, a car accident, college graduation, 9/11, your first glowing book review, etc.

But what about something you experience over and over again? Something that's power accrues over years and sticks with you for a lifetime? Something like writing? If love of writing is a state-of-being, can you remember when the clouds parted and you "became" a writer? 

Was it the very first time you sat down to transcribe a story that'd been forming in your mind? Or was it only after years of writing when something finally clicked into place, and you felt the door open?

Was it when a teacher or a critic or a lover told you what you'd created was worth something? Or was it when the world seemed to be telling you that your writing wasn't worth a damn-- and you stuck to your guns in spite of it all?

When it comes to "being" an "artist," everyone defines those words differently. I'd love to hear how you define them for yourself, why you need to write, and how you got here.

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