Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Other People’s Writerly Advice Tip #4 (Celebratory Edition)

So it's been a busy weekend, plus some. Mainly because Heather graduated with her MFA! Congratulations to her! Now, she's official. Officially...well she was already a poet...officially a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry, I suppose.

Which brings us not to The Twilight Zone, though it might as well be because we come to that popular party question: why get an MFA anyway? That's the subject of our advice today. Mike Kobre gave part of the commencement address, and in his remarks he delivered a great account of Melville's friendship with Hawthorne. Melville's literary star was fading while he worked on the ultimately doomed novel The Whale (a.k.a. Moby Dick) which would kill his career until it's brilliance was "rediscovered" years after Melville's death. What kept him going was his friendship with the more popular Hawthorne. And Kobre would say that is the kind of unquantifiable benefit of an MFA: a community of writers.

I would have to agree. Though I do owe a lot to UNC-Wilmington, what matters in my day-to-day life now are the friends I still have: Melody Clayton and Derek Nikitas chief among them. But even ones I don't see or talk to that often offer help in the dark night that is writing. Eric Vrooman, for example, just returned my manuscript with the kind of comments and close line readings that you should have to pay thousands of dollars for.

With this post and the last, I feel like I'm getting too sentimental. I promise to kill a kitten or a puppy in later posts to make up for it. Maybe a cute animal caged death match. Stay tuned.

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