Work After an M.F.A.

I get that after an M.F.A. one of the main career goals is to teach at the college level, whether sticking around at the alma mater or moving on to someplace with warmer climate, but there is something to be said for ignoring the pressures, perceived or not, of college admins while getting back to who you are as a writer (especially when patient to write a full length manuscript).

Back in middle school I started writing about my thoughts and feelings and got into poetry while my buddies were working out ways to train for baseball season during the winter months. I was observing my life through metaphors while my friends were studying for the SATs and picking up extra curriculars that would make them look good to expensive af colleges that would set them up for the boring, by-the-numbers careers they dreamed about.

I just wasn’t into what everyone else was. So why should I expect what anybody expects now that I’m free? I mean, I love teaching and I hope I will get back to college creative writing classrooms, but nobody (not many people, anyway) really knows me enough to give me a full schedule of those classes. It’s clear that there is a lot of work to be done before I get there.

Right after graduating I got a job as an art museum gallery guard. Seems like a cool idea, right? Well, after the initial paid days at the museum, it was mostly standing for hours in small spaces with static art and not enough pay to cover the excruciating commute into the city. I didn’t last long.

For a while I considered using my knowledge and experience with writing in the job market, maybe going into marketing or copywriting. Seems logical, right? Well, the more I looked into it, reading books and blogs about the stuff, I realized that I didn’t want to use my creative energies to make money. Or, that I just couldn’t use them for the dark side.

I want, still, to use creativity to express things important to me, things I have little control over. But to professionally create would take away that reckless abandonment, it would make my writing mathematical and cold. So, I’ve stayed away.

Now, I never would have expected it, but I’ve found my way to some pretty good work. I spend mornings in my local library checking out and discharging books and afternoons watching after kiddies in an after-school program. They’re both part-time, but at least when I go home, I have enough creative energy to write poems.

Plus, I get to be around books and young minds, which are both excellent brain food.

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