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  • Writer's pictureKaris Rogerson

The precarious magic of life & writing

Last week I started my MFA program, and after six workshops on magic systems and real-life magic, it occurred to me that there's a magic in the timing of our lives.

The thing to know is, I was supposed to already have a master's degree. Right after college, I was accepted in NYU's journalism MA program for three semesters of learning all about journalism in the real world. I didn't even consider going for my MFA in creative writing at that time. And then I dropped out. And I reevaluated my whole life.

I wondered — was I really meant to be a journalist? I had life crisis after identity crisis after depressive episode. And in early 2018, I applied to the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA)'s MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults. I was supposed to start the program in July, 2018.

It's January, 2022. And I'm just getting started. So what happened?


Or rather, life got in the way back in 2018. I was a full-time contractor for a public safety app on the overnight shift in July, 2018. I didn't have paid time off and I didn't have a daytime schedule and I didn't even have a home, honestly. I couldn't commit to a 10-day residency, much less 25 hours a week to schoolwork. I could barely read that year, much less read 8-12 books a month.

The timing wasn't right. And so, I let this dream slip through my fingers. And then last July I woke up one day and decided I want to get my MFA after all. I was about to quit the job that had taken up so much of my life and brain-space for the past 3.5 years, and I didn't know what was to come.

In addition, I felt like my writing was stagnating. I was querying unsuccessfully and feeling a lack. So I applied to VCFA. And to my shock and surprise, I got in. I paid my deposit. I went to the orientation sessions. And then, on Jan. 11, I started residency.

It still doesn't feel real — it feels like a fever dream, actually. But it is real. I was paired with an advisor. I've taken out loans. I have a cohort full of friends. I'm doing this.

So many times during the past 10 days, I thought — how perfect is the timing of this?? If I had started in 2018, I wouldn't have met the amazing cohort I'm a part of. I wouldn't have had the chance to learn from some of the faculty, who are new (my advisor is in her second semester as faculty, so I wouldn't have had the chance to learn from her!). I wouldn't have had the experiences I have had and will have.

In my workshop, I had a revelation about writing and the magic that follows the very process of writing. It can feel scary sometimes, to realize that if I'd written my favorite scene a day earlier or week later, it would have turned out different. It can feel...precarious.

If I reframe my mind to think of it as a form of magic, the magic that undergirds the world and is a current running through reality, feels a lot better. It's still a little random, a little precarious, but it's delightfully so. It's magic.

I'm starting my MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults. It's not the path nor the timing I thought my grad degree journey would take. But I do think it's perfect.


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