MFA: Write On

The average cozy mystery is seventy thousand words, and so far in The Mystery of Seagrass Island, I have written half of that amount. I fully intend to finish it, but I am going to beg for your understanding as I need to take a sabbatical from it, as I have decided that I would like to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

The MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree, which means that it is the degree that you need if you wish to teach creative writing at the college level.  I may or may not do that someday, but I definitely want to become a better writer and I believe that getting this degree will help me achieve that objective.

As many of you know, the books I have published so far are considered genre fiction. Genre fiction is about entertainment and escaping reality through a mystery, western, romance, horror, etc. whereas literary fiction provides a means to better understand the world that we live in and typically does not fit into a genre.  I don’t consider one is better than the other although some people do.  However, I would like the ability to write both and in order to obtain the degree that I am seeking, I will need to learn how to write literary fiction.  Fortunately, I have been getting my feet wet by taking the How Writers Write Fiction Class at the University of Iowa.

Getting into an MFA program is quite competitive, and one of the things that I need to do is submit twenty-five pages of literary fiction. This will be what I need to spend my time working on right now, because I will need to write and thoroughly revise the piece that I am going to submit for my application.

I have been carefully considering all of the low-residency programs available and I have chosen the program at Seattle Pacific University, which I believe is a good fit for me. The program takes two to three years and a total of sixty-four graduate hours to complete, and involves reading a minimum of sixty books and writing several critical papers. The thesis is a one-hundred-page manuscript and involves a public reading of the author’s work. There are five required ten-day residencies split between Seattle, Washington and Santa Fe, New Mexico, which involve an intensive daily schedule of workshops, craft classes, lectures, and readings.  The rest of the work is done from home, hence the “low-residency.”

I may not be accepted the first year that I apply.  If not, I will then make the decision to try again or look for an alternate program. I expect that there will be obstacles to deal with.  I have learned from life that I should not waste my time trying to move rocks in the stream, but instead to simply flow around them. I would appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts as I begin my endeavors.


  • Shelia shackelford

    Sending hugs keep up the good work love u

  • You know that I am for you in this decision and I will do all I can to help along the way! Prayers for acceptance being first on the list and God’s guidance, of course. Love you

    • DJ

      Thanks, Mom! Your assistance if very welcome and your prayers are much appreciated! Thank you for your support and encouragement. You are the best mom-in-law in the world! I love you too!

  • Wow, Donna! I’m proud of you and admire you for making this decision. I know you will do well, and I will pray for your endeavors as you approach this next level in your life. You go, Girl!

  • Congratulations on such a monumental decision. I know how hard it must have been to make this decision, and I am sure you have been on your knees many times. I too will get on my knees for you and pray that God opens the door he intends you to walk through sooner rather than later. Blessings,