I never imagined that I would be making this announcement. This week I received my acceptance letter to the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University. It’s a low residency graduate program that, once completed, will give me an MFA.
Writing has been a huge part of my life, but when I was younger I bought into the lie that pursuing writing as a career was unrealistic. It took me a year or two when I first started college that I allowed myself to declare as an English major. I figured I could at least get a job editing or maybe work in publishing somehow.
Being an English major has filled the past 3+ years with tons of reading, writing, and general analysis of the importance storytelling has in my life and the world as a whole. This fall began the last semester of my undergraduate studies, and I found myself a little stranded. Though I was (and still am) interested in working in publishing or editing, moving to a big city doesn’t appeal to me and the job search was taking the usual turn (slow and not much to choose from). So I allowed the idea of pursuing an MFA to become more of a serious possibility.
Writers often deal with a good bit of self-doubt, and I have definitely had my own issues with it. I have way more unfinished projects than finished ones, and I haven't let very many people look at my work. Throughout this whole application process all sorts of questions have been running rampant in my mind:
What if my writing isn't as good as I think it is?
Am I really a writer if I've only been able to write one rough draft of something?
What if I can't get myself out of a plotting rut?
Can I really do this?
Eventually though? I had to give myself the freedom to take a look at this program and what it could mean for my future. An MFA opens up opportunities in teaching, both creative writing and developmental writing, plus developing my own writing and pursuing publication. This path falls in line with my life goals so perfectly, even more so than random jobs in copywriting or marketing.
So I decided to go for it.
Why Seton Hill?
I first learned about Seton Hill's writing program from Kaye Dacus. I read some of her books a few years ago, and I learned from the bio on her website that she had attended a low residency MFA program, and I found the concept intriguing.
Seton Hill is located in southwestern Pennsylvania which is about 3 hours from where I live. This is a doable distance to drive for the two residencies I will be attending yearly. Plus, most of the program is online which I have experience doing from my undergraduate studies.
The program is called Writing Popular Fiction, and I will be participating in the Young Adult concentration. This was a huge factor in my decision to apply for this program. I find literary fiction fascinating, but I prefer to write to a younger audience because, from my experience, those stories have the ability to contain both entertainment and surprising depth.
Applying to the program was not very difficult. The hardest parts were asking my professors at MSMU to write letters of recommendation for me and deciding on which writing sample to include in the application.
If anything, the waiting was the most difficult aspect of the application process. The questions and self-doubt were very, very strong during those few weeks. But then I received the acceptance email and the physical copy in the mail, and the excitement is beginning to feel real.
There are still many questions I have about life after graduation in December, and there are quite a few uncertainties in regards to finding a part-time job while I work through this program. However, this finally feels like a step in the right direction, and I'm so excited to be pursuing my writing even more fully in the months ahead.