2 min read

The Writing: Should I Get an MFA...if I want a writing community?

Today, I’ll be reading live at The Brooklyn Rail at 13:00 EST (e.g. right after this).

Continuing the MFA series (#1, #2, #3, #4), this week’s question: Should I Get an MFA...if I want a writing community?

Answer below. As usual, I’ll be here for 45 minutes!

Image: Oleanders, Vincent van Gogh, 1888. Oil on canvas. Pale pink oleanders flounce over sprigs of thin green leaves in a dark green vase with flowers and a turquoise bottom. Two yellow books rest on top of each other on the left corner of the pink table. A wall interspersed with green smoothed into yellow is behind it.

The very quick and simple answer to this is: no.

Writing is a lonely business. And you may fantasize about buying yourself a ready-made community at an MFA program. Plenty of these programs will have the bones of a community: a writing series, workshops, and cohorts of other people who love writing as well.

However, the writing world works exactly like the rest of the world. Just because someone likes something you like doesn't mean they will be compatible as your friend. It's dangerous to uproot your life in the name of a fantasy that might not deliver.

If you want to find community, you do have to do it the old-fashioned way: stay curious and interested and join events or groups with similar interests. Most of the time, you won't meet anyone who you necessarily click with—your writing community might end up being someone in your existing friend circle who just started picking it up.

Once you have one friend, you can stick together and workshop together, for instance. And then you'll have automatically doubled the possibility that you *both* will find another friend, who knows someone who knows someone...until your workshop has grown to ten people or more.

As long as you advertise what you're doing by continuing to do it, people will think of you when someone else is asking around for a community, too. Thanks to you, they'll already have one to join.