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What We Keep

MFA?

I’m pondering my words of wisdom for October’s Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators conference, “Writing and Illustrating for Kids,” sponsored by the Southern Breeze SCBWI folks in Birmingham, October 11-12. Topic: Is an MFA Program for You?

Well, obviously I think it is, mostly, since I direct one at Hollins University, so it’s really a matter of articulating why. Community is the first thing I think of – a readymade gang of writers and artists who know that children’s books are literature and book illustration is art. No one at Hollins is ever going to ask you, “So, when are you going to write a real book? When are you going to make real art?” If you write or illustrate children’s books, a children’s book MFA program is where your craft will be taken seriously. A lot of the faculty will feel the same way incidentally. Outside of the children’s lit MFA they may not get to teach children’s literature, or teach it much, or teach it to students who are actually interested in it.

Then there’s the motivation factor. Do you want to make stories and art? Then get going -- hit that keyboard, lock yourself in the studio. You will have supportive faculty to push you to do that, and to teach you how to polish your craft.

You’ll learn to really think about writing. I can’t say it better than this blog by Sarah, one of our soon-to-graduate students.

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