Today begins my last week of classes for the spring semester. This time next year, if all goes as planned (which it rarely does) I will be submitting my thesis and graduating with my MFA degree.
Well, if I’m going to think positively, I suppose the next step is that a prestigious publishing house offers me an absurdly huge contract and publishes my novel to both popular and critical acclaim, which will allow me to pay off my loans, buy a house, write for a living, and travel the country on my book tour, where throngs of fans attend my readings (throngs of people at a book reading? Yes, this is definitely an indulgent fantasy).
Barring that scenario, MFA graduates all face the same problem: finding sustainable employment in a highly competitive industry with fewer jobs than candidates, even fewer of which pay very well. Luckily for me, I already have a full-time job that I enjoy (and which gives me loads of writing material), but the fact is that for as much as I love teaching high school, as long as I continue to do it, I’ll never have enough time to write as I really need. Then again, I identify myself as a teacher just as much, or probably even more, than I do as a writer. I might be lost, feel less alive, if I ever left the profession for something else.
But despite my confusion about the future, I still count myself lucky that the only anxiety I face (and it’s still a big one) is whether, after all this struggle and hard work, a publisher will be interested in buying those sweated-out pages of my first manuscript. Those of my friends who are in school full time have to couple that fear with the anxiety that comes with trying to find a new career.
So, as a favor to all my compatriots who are graduating from MFA’s this spring, is there any advice out there from writerly people who have landed a job they love? Any tips about the job search, suggestions about alternative careers, or just some friendly commiseration—an assurance that everything is going to be okay? Your input would be most appreciated!