Back in the fall of 2011, I wrote a blog post about how my writing had a Similar Theme stating:
“In truth, most of my blog entries have had a similar theme: I need to get writing. I haven’t written anything. Why aren’t I writing anything!?!”
Now I’ve moved on to this:
“I write everyday, but it is the right kind of writing? For example, am I wasting my time writing in this blog? Do my blog posts talk about the same things over and over, so do I sound like a broken record?”
I realized why I like to blog is because blogging is really a form of personal essay writing, and, apparently, I cannot seem to get enough of it. In addition to working on editing my novel and thinking about the new novel I’m going to write, I spend time journaling, vlogging, and blogging about what I want to do next. I looked up the definition of personal essay and found this:
“Though factual, the personal essay, sometimes called a narrative essay, can feel like a short story, with ‘characters’ and a plot arc. A personal essay is a short work of nonfiction that is not academic (that is, not a dissertation or scholarly exploration of criticism, etc.).” -Short Prose Genres
It feels silly now, in hindsight, to be pointing out I’m my own character here. Of course I am, this is personal essay writing afterall.
I also found a great article here:
-What is a Personal Essay?
All of the concepts and ideas found under these links are germane to my personal struggle on the way forward with my education (MFA versus MA) for a number of reasons. Firstly, the idea of a creative outlet versus scholarly exploration of criticism.
Primarily, the difference between MA and MFA is this:
“An MA is often focused on English literature and academics with the possibility, depending on the program, of a concentration in creative writing. The MFA, on the other hand, may require heavy reading, but it is dedicated to writing, workshops and achieving a manuscript-length project at the end of the program.” -What the F? (MA vs MFA)
After producing an undergraduate thesis for the English Honours Program for my BA, but having worked on writing, workshops, and a manuscript length project for my minor in Creative Writing with a bunch of BFA students, who decidedly did not want to do a “dissertation or scholarly exploration of criticism,” I had decided to pursue a MFA for my graduate degree and leave modern critical theory behind me. I want to focus on my writing and creative growth. Alas, on March 9 I received my rejection letter:
“Dear Respected Applicant,
We regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you a position in the UBC Creative Writing MFA Program, starting September 2018. This year we received over 320 applications, many international. The caliber of the work was high, the rankings were very competitive, and faculty had to make some difficult decisions.”
This was a huge disappointment. The website had warned me, “Approximately 20% of applicants are accepted each year,” but I still only applied to this one school. So now my biggest challenge is finding an online program I can complete in the next three years, and with the competitiveness of MFA programs, I find myself now looking instead at MA programs.
“Although there are hundreds of MFA programs, the competition to get in has also been slowly rising. Landing your top choice might prove difficult.” -What the F? (MA vs MFA)
I’m now living proof of that landing my top (and only) choice has proven difficult. My second choice may be to pursue an MA instead, but I would want to be able to focus on new media forms and the personal essay opportunities that affords. I believe Virigina Woolf’s observation about “people who use this medium from genuine inspiration because it best embodies the soul of their thought.” That’s how I feel exactly.
Something else to think about:
“One hundred and twelve years after Woolf, the death of the personal essay was pronounced once again, this time by Jia Tolentino in a widely read piece in The New Yorker…Tolentino accused the genre of trafficking in empty, sensational confession that lacked self-awareness or longevity.”
“In 1905, Virginia Woolf lamented its [that is Michel de Montaigne’s described personal essay’s] decline in The Decay of Essay-Writing. ‘There are, of course, distinguished people who use this medium from genuine inspiration because it best embodies the soul of their thought,’ she wrote. ‘But, on the other hand, there is a very large number who make the fatal pause, and the mechanical act of writing is allowed to set the brain in motion which should only be accessible to a higher inspiration.’” -The Personal Essay Isn’t Dead