27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA

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Ted Thompson: Author of The Land of Steady Habits, a well received debut novel from this summer that is due to be adapted by Nicole Holofcener (!) for the screen, and a charming and honest presence regarding the writing life on the internet (his “Ask a Debut Novelist” column is great reading).

Does he have an MFA? Yes, from Iowa.

Does he teach in programs? Teaches, but not in an MFA program.

Does he think you should get an MFA? No.

But I guess what I’m saying, mostly to myself, but also to you and to anyone else who might be struggling with this, is that you don’t need a book deal for your commitment to your writing to be valid, you do not need a grant or a residency or an MFA. All of those things are nice, and by all means you should go after them, but I guess what I’m saying is that you do not need permission. You give yourself permission, one day at a time, you find the hours and protect them, you treat them as important and they become important, you treat your work as valid and it becomes valid.