From Corporate to Creative

Posted on 25 August 2013

I’ve officially started my MFA at Bowling Green State University. I spent the last week meeting my cohort, finding my way around campus, filling out employment forms, and attending orientation sessions — a schedule that has kept me so busy that it sometimes still comes as a shock that I’m here at all, and that I really left my job behind in order to spend these two years in the program. I’ll be honest and admit there have been moments I’ve wondered what the heck I’ve gotten myself into, and why I made this risky/difficult choice to begin with.

Thankfully, earlier this summer I spoke to a few other writers who made the same choice I did and who remind me why this is so important.

My latest Poets & Writers article, “From Corporate to Creative: Leaving a Career to Pursue an MFA,” examines why a writer would give up a “real” job to earn an artistic degree that, realistically, doesn’t always offer many practical, real-world applications. I interviewed a range of writers willing to risk financial security and more to get this degree. One woman left her 16-year tenure in a high-powered PR career to enter Ohio State University’s MFA program; an aerospace engineer uprooted his life (and his wife’s) to move from California to Michigan to earn his MFA; and a New York City entrepreneur followed MFA funding to the Midwest to focus on her poetry. Then there are the writers who kept their careers while simultaneously pursuing low-res MFAs: the emergency room physician who continued to practice medicine while attending Warren Wilson, and the chemist who preferred to keep the science career he loved while also writing.

These writers and others showed me that there’s more than one way to build a writing life. They also make me feel I’m not, in fact, crazy to pursue an MFA at this point in my life. In the end, no matter what’s in store for my writing career, I’ll always have these two years of intensive writing and reading time.

Which means, I suppose, that it’s time to get to work.

My P&W article is available in the print Sept/Oct 2013 MFA issue and will also be included in P&W’s special PDF MFA guide, which should be available for purchase in September.

7 responses to From Corporate to Creative

  • Averil says:

    Every time I visit your blog there is some new and wonderful accomplishment to celebrate. A P&W article! I can’t wait to read it!

  • You are a rock star! So proud of you taking this huge step, and so proud also to call you my friend.

    It was great to see you yesterday! Looking forward to many more get-togethers along the way.

  • Teri says:

    Love the article, Laura, and I’m so proud of you for leaping before looking, though I’m guessing you looked and jumped anyway. :-) I know you’re going to soak up every second of your time at Bowling Green and I’m looking forward to hearing about your MFA adventures.

  • Catherine says:

    Ahh! This is wonderful. I would love to do something like this and I feel it makes perfect sense. As soon as my youngest finishes high school…Looking forward to hearing about this experience! Ciao cat

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