First year contributor
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MFA Challenges

Whew. Y’all I have survived the first two quarters of my MFA Years. I have to make it through Spring quarter and then from mid-June to October I am on one hella long summer break before I begin my second (and likely, final) year. So, what keeps me up at night? ***WARNING: WHINING AHEAD***:

  • Being on a budget: I had a big girl job and walked away from a comfortable living to pursue my MFA. It breaks my heart every time I have to check the price tag on something before I throw it in my grocery cart. We aren’t talking about designer jeans people, we’re talking about “Do I buy chicken this week or wait and hope there’s a mega sale on thighs next week?” The first 6 months being on a tight budget was cute. I felt a sense of satisfaction each time I came in under budget. But now, I want nothing more than to sidle up to the bar of my favorite restaurant order an appetizer, an entree, an dessert and 2 glasses of wine and head home happy. Sigh. Instead I’m going to eat another one of these pineapple-bacon sausages I splurged on last week and try to be satisfied. I just remind myself that I chose this life and some people are living this tightly because that is their reality (RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE!). The other big issue with not having money coming in is I’m in California and my family is in Kentucky. I can’t just drop money on a plane ticket when something goes down and be home. I have to be reasonable about matters of the heart.
  • Will I finish my book in time? HAHAHAHAHA! Nope. You know what’s really hard? Writing a book. You know what’s even harder (arguably)? Writing a memoir. I have learned so much about myself and my shit in the past 6 months it’s insane. It’s sent me on a emotional loop. And while I’m trying to process it all, I’m also making revisions loooool. I would love to graduate with a completed manuscript, but man, it’s tough. I just don’t know anymore. Did you catch Lena Dunham on Scandal this week? “Everyone who writes a memoir is a whore.” Yup. That’s a fact.
  • I’m almost half way through and I have NO IDEA what to do this time next year. Will I just go back into my old life? Will I have enough under my belt to freelance? Can I work part-time and finish my book? Like I seriously have no idea what is on the horizon for me and that shit is scary. I’m in my 30s now. I need a plan.
  • Do I even want to be a writer anymore? This life is so hard and requires so much patience, would it be easier to just shelve my writing dreams and go live a simple, basic life somewhere? No, like FOR REAL FOR REAL, do I really want this? I want to believe the constant chorus in the back of my mind of youshouldbewritingrightnowyoushouldbewritingrightnow is proof enough I can’t live without writing, but man is the grass looking greener…
  • Do people like me?!? My personality and all that I am is frayed around the edges. I’ve made some huge life changes this past year and am going through some significant emotional turmoil right now that I don’t even know if I know how to interact with other people in an appropriate manner. I feel like I’m constantly saying the wrong things and doing a shit ton of navel gazing in social settings. WHO AM I ANYMORE? AHHHHH.
  • Not being busy: I came from sales. I had numbers and accolades and I knew who I was and that I mattered and that I was important and was contributing to society. Now, I’m a student. I don’t have a job. I might not even work over the summer (it’s hard to work and ride the bus in Riverside), so I have a lot of guilt over any free time I have that I’m not spending writing. And I’m constantly tempted to get some type of outside work to validate myself (and build up my dwindling savings). I fantasize about all the things I will do with my first paycheck after my MFA program. Then there’s this other part of me that sits myself down and says take advantage of this time to just be. To just pause. It’s ok. Like you may not have this time again to get yourself together as a person, so just be still.

I’m not sure if everyone’s MFA experience is this… hmmm… emotional…? But I know every single person in an MFA program is dealing with questioning themselves as a writer. I just keep telling myself things are cyclical and this too shall pass and not to worry, just enjoy the NOW and let next year take care of itself.

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This entry was posted in: First year contributor

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Minda Honey holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside. She lives in Louisville, KY where she leads community-based writers’ workshops and pays her bills with her words. Her work has been featured by The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Longreads, Teen Vogue, The Washington Post and elsewhere.

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