Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#WritersLife: YA Sci-Fi and un-education

#WritersLife - Amber the Blonde Writer

It's #WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

NaNoWriMo 2015 ended, and I made it in on Nov. 30th. I don't think I've ever cut it that close. I closed the contest at 50,132 words, but I'm still finishing. It's currently at 55,800 words and I expect to finish in the next 10,000. 

But I've said that before.

This novel goes back to Young Adult and can only be described as science-fiction/fantasy. There are parallel universes and magical swords, so you see why it doesn't fit one more than the other. This is my favorite genre. My best stories always stem from SFF and this one reminds me that I need to give my contemporary tries a break because I don't read those. 

I finished Winter by Marissa Meyer and it was FABULOUS.

I currently have Oblivion by Kelly Creagh, Ice Like Fire by the fantastic Sara Raasch, The Heart of Betrayal by Mary. E. Pearson, and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard in my possession. I plan to read them in this order, and I'm hoping to get so much SFF elemental inspiration from each of them.

Amber the Blonde Writer - library haul December 2015 titles
My glorious library haul!

Aside from my reading and noveling habits, I want to make a brief announcement about my writing goals: I will not be attending the Hamline University Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program in the spring.

Education and Writing

Don't get me wrong: getting my MFA in writing has been a dream of mine since I was 19. Everyone in my life, from friends to colleagues to writing professors, has supported my desire to earn my Master's degree, and I am still beyond honored and blessed to have been chosen for the Hamline MFAC program.

However, these programs cost money. When I looked up the program in summer 2014, I was looking at approximately $32,000 program total. When I was accepted in March 2015, the semester cost was $8400. By August, that number rose to $9400. 

I don't have it in me to spend $37,000 on a degree that doesn't guarantee a job. Business and engineering degree holders are having difficulty, and education and nursing majors are making it by. What chance does a writing major have? I don't think I've made $37,000 since I graduated college with my meager writing jobs (thanks, tutoring center, for that minimum wage salary).

Kelly Creagh is a fantastic author who graduated from Spalding University's MFA program, but she is one of the few who is well-known, and even she's quiet on the radar of YA bestsellers. I can't justify a liberal arts education for this amount of money. It's not in me. 

I can, however, find more writers in my community and join writing critique groups. My local NaNoWriMo region has threads about the groups they're beginning for specific genres or simply for their zip codes. There are a handful of writing and book cons happening in the spring. I am still close with my best beta readers from college.

Let me say: you don't need a master's to be successful. If it's for you, do it. If you can afford it, do it. But financial security is important to me, especially while I'm still getting into the world and earning related work experience in editing and writing. $37,000 could be a hefty down payment for a house, or a new car, or to spend on conventions and books and workshops (although there are many free books at the library and free workshops among NaNoers for those strapped for cash). 

Work on your craft, writers. Work on your craft as much as you can. You don't need a degree to be a writer. Hell, you don't need one to be an author. To be a writer, you must dedicate time to your story. To be an author, you need to sell your story. That's all you need. 

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