Unlock the Muse – September 17, 2019

As I’ve mentioned before, a writer’s education should be ongoing and never-ending. There is always something more to learn. This learning might take any number of forms. One such form is the MFA in Creative Writing. Last week I looked at some of the top reasons why someone might want to pursue such a degree.

But the MFA isn’t the right choice for everyone. Here are some reasons why it might not be:

  • Cost: The typical MFA degree is a 2-3 year program, and the cost starts around $30,000. Even a low-residence program is likely to cost more than $10,000.
  • No guarantee of publication: Even with all the work to improve craft and the potential connections made during a degree program, the competition for publication is still intense.
  • Focus on literary vs. genre fiction: Despite the proliferation of MFA programs, the focus of nearly all of them remains on literary fiction. If you want to pursue genre or commercial fiction, the MFA might not be the best place.

If you’re looking for more on the subject, here are a few websites I found:

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Catcher in the Rye, Peyton Place, Blubber – sound familiar? They should, because at some point in their history, all these books were banned. Write about your favorite banned book, and explain why it never should have been censored.

Think about why a book gets banned in the first place. All sorts of books have ended up on banned book lists, including the American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the hugely popular Harry Potter series. Right or wrong, they get banned for various reasons. But if you think about it, theses books have touched a nerve, exposed something raw and real, and made someone uncomfortable. How does this relate to your own writing? Just this, don’t worry about what others might think of what you have to say. Write the story you need to write. Let it be real and raw. Because that’s where it will reach out and potentially change someone’s life.


1. The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.
2. An enlightening experience.

The word educate comes from the early 15c Latin, educare meaning “to bring up, rear, educate.” It’s also related to educere which means “to bring out, to lead forth,” from ex- “out” + ducere “to lead.”
(from etymonline.com)

Happy writing!

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