MFA Creative Non-Fiction (research, worry, and excitement)

Been researching MFA programs.  Even narrowing it down to programs that have creative non-fiction concentrations, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the experience.  It’s simultaneously exciting and frightening, bringing up self-doubt and some kind of pre-patterned thought of failure.  Okay, I know, someone is bound to say that I’m amazing and excellent and a great writer and OF COURSE  they’ll accept me.  Thanks, in advance.  And feel free to say it, I will not object.

While that may be true, the fact remains that fear is not easily dissolved by truth.  Fear tends to have a directed ear, hearing only that which supports its own position.  So, it seems to me, the attempt to not be afraid is rather fruitless.  Rather, my task is to move forward despite the fear, even while it whispers darkly all the reasons that failure is assured.  To write statements of purpose, introduction and personal goals.  To craft writing samples of creative non-fiction and not worry that because they aren’t already written is some indication of my unsuitability as an MFA candidate.  To trust that this path is the one to walk, because I want to.

Ah, that is something of the crux of the current issue.  I do not know exactly why it is that I fear to do what I want, or have spent so much of my life sustaining or arguing with an inner voice that says I cannot do what I want.

Nonetheless, I’m doing it.  So there, darkness.

Okay, here is my current shortlist of schools I’m probably applying to:

  • Hollins University (Roanoke, VA)
  • University of Iowa (Iowa City)
  • University North Carolina, Wilmington
  • University Arizona, Tuscon
  • Eastern Washington University (Spokane)
  • University New Mexico, Albuquerque


  • Naropa University (Boulder)
  • Portland State
  • University Wyoming, Laramie
  • University New Hampshire, Durham

The A-list includes schools that offer the creative non-fiction concentration, have programs in photography and film (screen-writing), focus on teaching creative writing, provide some or a lot of funding in the form of teaching assistantships, and seem to be excited to provide a community-oriented environment.  They are not in California and are, surprisingly, mostly in the interior of the country.  UT Austin is, sadly, not on the list, because there is not a creative non-fiction concentration.

Applying is a multi-step process.  I have to request transcripts from every school I ever attended (WHY did I go to 3 universities and one community college?), get three letters of recommendation, write a personal statement and submit a substantial writing sample. Thank god, I do not have to take the GRE.  I think that would be about the tipping point of my sanity, if I did.

Other than, school application matters, life goes well.  Wenatchee and the farm are lovely.  Spending time with Grace, Bruce and Michele is fun and heart-warming.  I feel very blessed to have such friends.

So, now, I sign off.  Be well, fair readers.


3 thoughts on “MFA Creative Non-Fiction (research, worry, and excitement)”

  1. Here’s to moving forward, despite the fear! Go for what you want in life…YES.

    Glad some of the schools are, at least, on the West Coast;)


  2. Uma, I think your observation about fear are interesting.It reminds me of a saying my Dad had, ” that you cannot be governed by your fears”.
    I really think fear is just another word for the unkown. Bruce

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