If you are thinking it’s time to take your writing to the next level, we should talk.
Those of us who are called to art predictably encounter all kinds of people who can list all kinds of reasons not to pursue it.
"Just don’t," they say, "It’s too risky." "Art is not really necessary." "The story you have to tell isn’t that important, after all."
These messages are not inspired. They aren’t correct, either.
I’m here to give you a different message, and I suspect it’s something you already know: You need to write. It’s what you’re called to do.
By pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Manhattanville College, you will develop craft and discipline so that you can become part of an ageless conversation, one built on creative energy that is channeled into words. You’ll read what the best have said, and you’ll answer.
And to quell the critics, let me add that in the process you’ll gain communication skills that will make you an employer’s dream.
Manhattanville’s M.F.A. in creative writing program is about community and creativity.
Ask our alumni to describe their experience at Manhattanville, and they will tell you their M.F.A. peers became their family, and the College their creative home.
There are, to be sure, many M.F.A. programs in the New York City region, but Manhattanville has staked out a special place among them as a small, passionate, intellectual community. We’ve created a singularly nurturing writing program and a lifelong creative resource for those who pass through it. Students get individual attention from our faculty and find a supportive group of peers. Our college is a short train ride to all of New York City’s literary grandeur, and yet our program is uniquely intimate, and is avidly supported by its alumni and faculty.
The act of writing itself is your first goal.
Our writing program was the vision of Sister Ruth Dowd RSCJ, a beloved nun who was 92 when she retired from the College in 2011. Maybe that explains, in part, the spirit of the place. Whatever spiritual views we each may or may not hold, it still often seems to me that writing shares something with nuns praying, and monks chanting, and shamans healing, and of course painters painting, and actors acting, and so on. All these people doing their contemplative thing, pouring out so much creative energy into the world — I believe that energy really does add up to something, whether it is ever acknowledged in the larger world or not. Writing focuses us, it taps into the best in us; simply by regularly writing we add something vital to the world. We engage, we create, and we experience our passion to express ideas — and this matters.
This is how I think of you, someone seeking out a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. You’ll come to Manhattanville to pursue a dream, and you’ll gain the insight and the skill to do the work you’re called to do. Then your real journey will begin, with a regular practice of serious writing. Some of your work will get published, some will not, but it all will matter. Your creative output matters. The community you build through the sharing of your work matters, as our community here will matter to you. Writing most certainly can and does change the world; it is no small thing you are pursuing.
So now it’s time for you to say what you need to say. Come join us. Let’s begin our conversation today about your own quest as a writer — a conversation that will continue through your experience here and beyond. It’s a long conversation, and it’s about time you got it started.
See you at Barat House!
Lori Soderlind, Director Manhattanville M.F.A. Creative Writing Program