Mario Villalobos

Some Thoughts About Going Back to College

I read this article today in the New York Times that was about whether writers think getting an MFA from a creative writing program is worth it. Unsurprisingly, some do and some don’t. Since I’ve graduated from college in 2008, I thought about applying to an MFA program about a handful of times, and each time I wasn’t serious about it. There were a lot of reasons why I didn’t want to go back to school. For example, I didn’t want to accrue more student debt, I didn’t want to spend more time in writer’s room where the life of all the stories was sucked away and beaten to death by other writers, and I didn’t want to do the work of applying to each school I was interested in. Today, none of those things are true anymore.

The article mentioned that a lot of schools pay for most, if not all, of the costs to attend their school, and some even offer a stipend on top of covering the required school costs to live off of while the students focus on their writing. I want my writing to be read by better writers than me and attending these workshops seems really attractive to me. I haven’t checked any of the application requirements for any school yet, but I’m sure most of them are tough, and that’s also attractive to me. If it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing, right?

I’ve been daydreaming all day about going back to school, and I really loved dreaming about it. I could go to school in Iowa or New York or California, and I can meet a vast array of people and do a vast array of things. I don’t know how far I’ll pursue this, and I don’t know how much this is all just wishful thinking, but for the first time in a long time I felt like this was something worth doing right. This could potentially change my life, and if I do it and I get in to a graduate school?

I don’t want to think that I need to go back to school to become a good writer. All the work I’m doing now is helping me get there. Part of me also feels like going back to college will be a distraction, and that I may not succeed as much as I would if I continued down the path I’m on right now. Leading a successful life as a published writer is one of the toughest things for anyone to do, especially for a nobody like me. And, to be brutally honest, the novel I’m working on right now is terrible. Even if I rewrite it and improve it as much as I can, I don’t think it’ll be good enough to be published anywhere. Who knows, though. Anything can happen between now and the time I’m done with the last draft of it. It could be decent.

Application deadlines ended months ago, giving me all year to think about this, and I plan to take my time considering this decision. It could change my life.