Wednesday’s WIP: After The Muse–and After the MFA

muse2014Honestly, I don’t know how they do it, but the Grub Street team presents an outstanding (and outstandingly-organized) conference with The Muse and the Marketplace every year. I have so many thoughts/gleanings to share after last weekend’s conference, but I am trying to be equally organized (in my mind, before I even attempt the screen). Pending further commentary, I thought I’d share a bit about the session that I moderated on Saturday afternoon.

The session that I’d proposed was titled “After the MFA: Constructing and Leading a Writing Life.” My super-accomplished co-panelists were Matt Bell, Patricia Park, and Laura van den Berg.

For those of you who weren’t able to attend the conference and/or our session, here’s the text of the handout that I prepared for distribution. Please feel free to add your resource suggestions in the comments section. Thanks!


Resources Recommended by Erika Dreifus

Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life. An excellent book by Midge Raymond. See for more information. (Full disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book.)

Now What? The Creative Writer’s Guide to Success After the MFA. As its website ( notes, this e-book “was created and published exclusively by alumni and faculty of the Fairfield University MFA in Creative Writing program.” You’ll find the table of contents and sample articles on the website. (Full disclosure again: I received a complimentary review copy of this e-book.)

MFA Day Job. Founded by Leah Falk, this website ( spotlights writers who share, beyond the MFA degree, “a creative outlook and a belief that their educational background, despite the doomsday warnings, is not a liability.”

The Writer’s Job. “Making a living while maintaining a regular writing habit is something people in Creative Writing programs, English departments, and the lit world don’t seem to talk about enough. We’ll be posting regularly about the craft and the various ways writers support it.” This website ( is run by Porter Shreve, director of the Purdue University MFA program, and students/graduates of that program.

“5 Freelancing Lessons I Learned the Hard Way.” This article (by me) appears on the very useful and recommended website, Make a Living Writing (


On my own website (

“On Nonacademic Jobs for Writers”:

“Nonteaching Jobs for MFA Grads”:

“Jobs for Writers”:

“Monday Markets” posts on my Practicing Writing blog ( that include announcements for both teaching and nonteaching jobs, as well as news about publishing opportunities (that don’t charge fees and that pay writers) as well as contests/competitions (that meet the aforementioned criteria).

I’ve focused here mainly on the making-a-living-outside-the-academy-and-still-managing-to-write part of post-MFA life for those of us who don’t win (or apply for) fellowships and/or tenure-track teaching jobs. But there’s some information on those topics available on my website, too. Please visit and subscribe to my free monthly e-newsletter The Practicing Writer ( for more.


Additional items of interest and relevance, discovered too late for inclusion in conference handout:

“What I Wish I Knew After My MFA Ended” by Sara Finnerty, on the Brevity blog:

“A Master’s in Chick Lit” by Karin Gillespie, for The New York Times‘s Draft series:

And one last item that isn’t necessarily MFA-focused, but worth including here for its sheer wisdom:

“Twenty-One Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Writing…” by Robin Black, for Beyond the Margins: