Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Creative Writing: Cecilia Gives Advice to an Aspiring Writer

Dear Readers,
Now and then I receive email from people who have read my work, and I'm sharing one such email today. I've left out the person's name:

Dear Ms. Cecilia,

My name is _______. I graduated from Ateneo de Manila University last March. I moved to the U.S. 3 months ago and while browsing the public library, I came across, "Growing Up Filipino." This is how I found your blog and your bio.

I very much admire your accomplishments. I would love to make writing a career myself. I noticed that you finished your undergrad in the Philippines and then did graduate studies in the U.S. I'm thinking of applying for an MFA too but all I have to prove any sort of talent in writing is praise from my published Creative Writing professors in workshops. That is to say, I'm not published. 

I guess, ma'am, what I'm saying is, I'm very confused about what to do. I don't know if I should try to get published first before wasting my money on MFA applications. I don't think I have anyone else to ask these questions, or I'd just rather hear it from someone who somehow has the same educational background I have when I moved to the U.S and is also, very successful in writing. Moreover, "Growing Up Filipino," is the kind of stories I wish to tell the world. Stories that anyone can relate to but still speak of Filipino culture. And as long as I'm asking for advice, what tips can you give to aspiring writers? 

I'm not sure if you get a lot of these emails. But if you ever do read this ma'am, I am very grateful. Any sort of advice you have for this very lost yuppie will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time.



Dear ______

Thanks for your email.
I think the important thing is to ask yourself is this:  What is it that you really want to do?  Do you want to write? 

You do not need an MFA to write.  I do not have an MFA (Note: I was in the MFA Film Making program at UCLA but did not complete my final film project.) I just wrote. I took writing classes at the Writers' Program at UCLA Extension to pick up some skills, but basically, I worked on my own to improve and pursue my literary endeavors.

The advantage of having an MFA perhaps is that you can teach, which is helpful, since writing does not really make money.

The MFA degree per se does not help get your work published. You will probably learn a lot and make some connections in an MFA program, but you can do the same by taking writing classes somewhere -- city colleges usually have writing classes.

You could also try to get a job in a newspaper or publishing house -- a beginning job, which gets your foot in that business. But again, this does not make you a writer.

Put simply, a writer writes.

Perhaps, while you are uncertain about what to do, find out if your local community college has writing classes, and sign up in a beginning one, to see how you feel about it.  Then take it from there.

I have a lot of "How To Write" links in my blog -- you can check them out.

And here's a YouTube link of me giving advice to aspiring writers:

I hope this helps. Good luck,

Read also
Interview of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Before you Write, Try Clustering 
Two Important Rules

tags: writing, creative writing, writer, author, classes, MFA

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