Hi. I'm Jenna McGuiggan.
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The Road to MFA-ville (In The Word Cellar)

Today, I saw my name in print. This is not the first time this has happened, and, gosh, I hope it won't be the last, but this one was pretty sweet in a blood-sweat-and-tears way. Today the lecture list for my final MFA residency was released. You can see the whole thing here (click on "Residency Lecture Offerings"), but this is the part that made me smile the most:

Jennifer McGuiggan
How do we use language? How does it use us? The subconscious life of language can take us beyond the everyday surface of words and plunge us into deeper waters. We'll look at questions such as the following: Is language a sensuous entity or a mere code for useful communication? How do the sounds of words impact us? Can language itself be a creative force both on the page and in the world? How do writers harness the inherent power of language to convey meaning? And how do we remember to have fun with words amidst such weighty topics? This lecture applies to all genres and will include excerpts from Virginia Woolf, Dylan Thomas, Eudora Welty, and others.

I was also pretty damn impressed with my classmates' lecture descriptions. We certainly do look good on paper. And I think we're pretty cool in person, too. I'm honored to have spent the last two years with so many fine writers, including those in other classes and especially on the Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty. I'm looking forward to my last trip to campus as a student, to hearing my classmates share what they've learned, and to -- oh yeah -- graduating!

When I was deciding whether or not to apply for grad school, a good friend of mine tried to dissuade me from it -- not because she thought I couldn't hack it, but because the thought of two years in academia made her want to take a long nap under the covers. This friend, mind you, is a college graduate, incredibly smart, and a fantastic writer to boot. She just didn't see the allure of pursuing a masters degree in writing. She raised a lot of good points, and I carefully considered her advice. I'm glad she voiced her opinion, because it pushed me to fully articulate mine and be certain that I was following the right path for me.

I don't think that anyone must get an MFA to be a writer -- or to be a good writer. But I do know that it was just what I needed at this stage of my writing life. Many of you have asked me for my thoughts on choosing (or not choosing) a graduate writing program. Over the next few weeks months I'll share my thoughts on picking a school and why you might (or might not) want to commit to a degree program.

The "In The Word Cellar" writing tips series has been on an extended hiatus, but I'm reviving it with this mini-series on the MFA. If you have other questions about writing or the creative life that you'd like me to answer, please leave it in the comments or email me.

And now I must go finish the final draft of my lecture. (What? You thought it was all done just because I had a title and summary? Pshaw!)

In The Word Cellar normally runs on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Read other posts in the series here.


Reader Comments (2)

Congratulations! I love the title you've chosen. I am also very excited for the return of In The Word Cellar.
May 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter~Kristina
I hope I can make it to your lecture, it sounds amazing. Looking forward to meeting you at the residency!
May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlana

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