My Journey to the MFA

Part 1:  Why a Master of Fine Arts (MFA)?

I cannot recall a time when I wasn’t an avid reader, or writer.  Until my mid-thirties, I had not considered writing as a gift, and did not officially call myself a writer.  I wanted to be a marketing professional, because who makes a living as a writer in a third world country?  Your best bet is to get a real job and write on the side as a hobby, especially if you came from humble beginnings, like I did.    

For nineteen years I worked mostly in Sales and Marketing, earning decent pay, by Dominican standards, accomplishing typical goals like home and vehicle ownership.  Writing took a back seat, but never failed to tug my sleeves to remind me that she was there.  So I would write something every now and then.  I even wrote a novel (which my readers loved).  Still, I didn’t feel confident about taking it seriously. 

Was it because I was in a comfort zone?  (You know how we love to resist change, when we’re in these zones!)

As the tugs became more incessant, I felt a shift.  Here’s when the magic happened.    

For about five years I was conflicted about pursuing higher education at the Masters level. Should I major in marketing or writing?  I struggled because I enjoyed marketing but writing was my first love.  And the money mehnnnnn!  What would I do with a writing degree, in Dominica?  What would I earn?  I sought clarity through different sources.  Life coaches (like Oprah) challenge us to pay attention to what excite us.  I started to monitor my behavior; I was devouring material on writing, and literally mustering energy to open the marketing newsletters.  The answer was there all the time. 

I found a gem of a mentor (round of applause for Dr. Schuyler Esprit!) who encouraged me to send my work into the world. It took me years (and guts) to heed her advice, but little by little, I did.  I shared my writing with other people outside of my circle, and the positive feedback was overwhelming!

I landed my marketing dream job at a prestigious company, and for six years I basked in it, growing in the role.  I was born for this! But something was lacking.  Marketing was not my first love, and I could feel myself pulling away, becoming resentful.    Sometimes the higher power gives us what we ask for, to help us realize what we really want, or what we do not want. In effect, I came back to square one in a roundabout kind of way.  

There’s so much advice on writing out there.  The best I read is ‘Becoming a Writer’ by Dorothea Brande, first published in 1934.  (The book is available on Amazon – check it out.)  Brande suggested several exercises that allow writers to get into their zone.  One of them was waking at least one hour earlier to write.  Being a single mother with a full time job, that exercise was challenging.  However I started it, and lo and behold!  Every day a new story erupted from my soul.  At that time I disliked leaving my writing to get ready for work.  I was itching to write all day! 

After Hurricane Maria emaciated Dominica in September 2017, the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad offered a two-week residency to two Dominicans. I was selected and I became a junior Writer-in-Residence at the campus, learning from award-winning author Oonya Kempadoo and other writers and scholars.  I was in heaven! I read one of my short stories at a literary event, and I was given the honor of representing the university (and Dominica) on the Caribbean News Media Group television morning show.  The whole experience was life changing, solidifying my decision to pursue formal training in creative writing. 

Yearning to pursue the MFA in Creative Writing was one thing.  Getting there was another.  I had so many questions:

– How do I pursue an MFA, as a single mother, already laden with responsibilities and financial commitments?

– What school would accept me without formal training in English?

– Would I have to leave my job, my home, my family?

– What about renovating my house that the hurricane destroyed?  Didn’t that take priority?
(No, I wasn’t insured.  Shame, I know.)

The answers came through prayer, research and speaking with people.  Despite my challenges, I remained confident in my decision and fearless, knowing that God’s grace is sufficient.  He blessed me with a gift, and he will always help me to nurture that gift. 

The truth is I have this intense desire to become a respected author and I fear stagnancy more than I fear change.  I believe that even though change will cause some discomfort, or upheaval in some cases, we can only achieve what we desire by getting out of our comfort zones, and owning our calling.

No risk, no reward.

Look out for Part 2 of My Journey to the MFA.

40 responses to “My Journey to the MFA”

  1. Lisa, thanks for stepping outside and sharing your other gifts with us.
    Moreover, more power to you for following your heart desire. Note that you will continue to succeed with a positive mental attitude and consistency driven by passion and creativity from within.
    Congratulations on your life journey and I look forward to many more of your stories.

    Johanna Isidore

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mindset is everything . I enjoyed your piece. Life In itself is a challenge, it’s the basis of our growth, growth will happens when we get uncomfortable, success happens every day we take a step to living our truth , living happiness when we don’t only exist but we wake up every day excited to do what innately waters our soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Denise, thanks for reading. “…innately waters our soul.” I love that. Yes, mindset is everything! I always tell people, including the kids, about your inspiring weight loss journey. We are indeed an inspiration to others and I agree we should choose growth. Blessings!


  3. Lisa, This is an exciting journey. You actually remind me of myself at a certain stage in my life. Who knows? You may inspire me to complete some of those unfinished stories & poems I have been hoarding for decades. 🙂 You had the courage to move past your fears and I salute you and will continue to follow your journey. Blessings and continued good wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your journey is only half-way told and already it’s inspiring. All the best in your pursuit of your MFA and dream profession. I’m impatiently awaiting part 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. God always takes care of his children and he knows what’s best for us. Continue to listen to him and you will accomplish great things. Happy for you girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lisa, This is an exciting journey. You actually remind me of me at a stage in my life. Who knows? You may inspire me to complete some of those unfinished stories & poems I have been hoarding for decades. 🙂 You had the courage to move past your fears and I salute you and will continue to follow your journey. Blessings and continued good wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lisa I am reading this and in tears…so very inspiring. Ever since we worked together at LIME I remember you saying writing is what you truly loved and you are so great at it from what I have read from you. I admire your decision to move ahead and follow your dreams, your passion!! Kudos to you my girl, you have already made it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lisa,

    I am looking forward to Part 2 and all the other parts of your journey. As I messaged to you earlier, you are my new found inspiration. No pressure at all. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indira,

      You are an avid reader, and a professional and therefore I know that you recognize quality work when you see it. I feel humbled to be of inspiration to you and love that you appreciate my writing. The journey is not easy, but no guts, no glory. Thank you for your support!


  9. Lisa, this piece is beautiful as all others. Just the other day someone told me that they wish the best for you on your new journey and I responded to them – Lisa always gets what she sets her mind to, she is blessed like that. Lol

    You have always been of great support and encouragement to me while I’ve admired your commitment and persistent to whatever you set your mind to. Because of your love and support and continuous encouragement, I too never gave up.

    My dear cousin, I am so proud of you. Keep up the awesomeness. I patiently await part two but oh boy do I long for the day when I get my copy of your first published book/novel.

    MFA here comes Lisa Joycelyn Latouche!!! #MyForeverLove ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Cous,

      I always say we feed off each other’s energy, and we should be a source of inspiration to the people around us. You’ve been there from frilly panty and first brassiere days and I appreciate your friendship and trust. Your support and encouragement is real and I won’t give that up for the world – thank you!

      Tenacity, in the world of dream chasing, is king.

      One blessed love.


  10. This was an amazing read…you had me hanging on your every word.

    Congratulations and all the best.

    I am inspired by you!
    …anxiously waiting for part 2

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is an amazing story Lisa. I felt inspired just reading through. Thanks for sharing and I wish you all the best of success with your upcoming novel and following your passion.

    Liked by 1 person

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