Sunday, June 29, 2008

A 'Creative' Future

As my faithful readers know, I have been fretting over the future here for a long time.  I have bounced between being a pastor and pursuing a PhD, probably in Moral Theology.  Well, I think I've come to a decision.  Mary Ann and I have been discussing this for the last few days, and I think I'm going to pursue an MFA in creative writing.  You'll notice that this is neither the pastoral track nor the PhD track.  There are PhD options in creative writing, but most programs just offer the terminal MFA.

How did I come to this decision, you ask?  By weighing the options, of course!  I looked at PhD work and realized that I could not really get excited about Moral Theology.  I had also come to the conclusion that the pastorate was not the place for me a long time ago.  Then I took a long look at my writing abilities, and I came to the conclusion that I'm a better "creative writer" than I am a theologian.  So the "subjective experience" criterion was definitely in the MFA's favor.

Then I thought about how I feel alive when I'm writing fiction.  I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.  Like I'm where I'm supposed to be.  It's a spectacular feeling, and one I'm not used to.  I realized then that God designed me to write.  That's how I'm built.  And if I can put in a commercial for Covenant Seminary here, this place has really helped me come to grips with how God made me, and how he can use the arts for his glory.  Coming here for the MDiv was worth it, even if I won't be using the degree in the expected way.

To continue the process I had a conversation with Mary Ann a few days back.  I was still clinging to the idea that I might use the PhD as my primary goal, but keep the MFA as a side option.  During that conversation she helped me realize that practically speaking the PhD was not all that much better than the MFA.  Both the PhD and the MFA will open up teaching jobs, the PhD in theology and religious studies, and the MFA in creative writing.  Neither field has huge demand, but MFA programs are popping up all over.  There is more growth there, I think.  Also, if I get the MFA jobs in the book industry open up a bit for me.  I could get an editing job more easily than before.  Theology doesn't offer a similar non-professorial option.  I know there are think-tanks, but there are certainly more publishers than there are think-tanks.  So there's that.

I also think I stand a better chance of getting into an MFA program with funding than I do a similarly funded PhD program.  As I said before, I'm a better writer than a theologian.  The question is, of course, which program?  I've started trying to figure that out, but that's a post for another day.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Praise God you found yourself! I feel like using exclamation points!!
I think this will be more a "Josh" fit than a "my environment raised me for this" fit. You'll be happier.

Rex Queems (the phony)

Joshua Duncan said...

Thanks Rex. It seems we're both getting on the right track.

Movieram said...

You know that I'm especially thrilled that this is your decision. It's one I didn't see coming, since you were such an anti-fiction snob for such a long time. (Which is really surprising since the three biggest fans of storytelling in all forms are you, me, and your brother.)

It's a perfect fit for you, and I couldn't be happier, more excited, or prouder!

Joshua Duncan said...

Thanks, movieram . . . or can I refer to you by your real name?

Movieram said...

You can call me anything except late for dinner! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk...

samuel said...

OK, wish I'd read this before I made the party-pooper comment earlier. (This is what may happen when one reads a blog backwards).