I’ve been thinking about an MFA a lot lately, and not just because it’s something that I can’t have. Since moving to Portland, I frequently daydream about creative writingÂ programs because I’m struggling to build my community. In New York, I knewÂ people who would read my work, critique it, and support it. Here in Portland, I barely know any kind of people, much less writerly people.Â I’m building a local community slowly, brick by brick. But it’d sure be a lot easier with an MFA program.
Another reason that I think about an MFA more often these days is that, as I become more serious about my writing, I become more aware of what I do not know, and hungrier to expandÂ my knowledge of writer’s craft. Always a voracious reader, now I’m reading with heightened attention to the writer’s choices.Â And, while I consider myself well read, there are major gaps in my reading experience. An MFA wouldÂ help me fill those gaps, certainly. But, in this, too, I’m going to have to go it alone, at least for now.
So, I’m putting together a syllabus. It’s a work in progress. I call it Shannon’s DIY MFA, the beginner knitting project of the literaryÂ world. Despite theÂ dropped stitches, I think it has a certain homemade charm.
My syllabus could use a little rounding out, and I’d like it to have at least twelve books. It could probably use a little male-ness for comparison’s sake (though, with all the syllabi that have suffered aÂ lack of female-ness, I’d much rather have this problem). It’s a hodge-podge of a few books that I’ve always wanted to read, plus a few books I think I should read, plus one book (Austen’s) that I would like to read again, with the writing central in my mind.
Poems, by Elizabeth Bishop
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
Bluets, by Maggie Nelson
Boysgirls, by Katie Farris
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Wuthering Heights, by EmilyÂ Bronte