I want to say, at the outset here, I mean no disrespect to the young lady above; however one thing I believe I didn’t make clear in the above post is that the business of writing, at its core hasn’t changed all that much. People who claim it has, have, most likely not made a study of writing as a profession throughout history.
Without belaboring the point, please allow me to state that endeavors, such as writing professionally, are not “jobs” at all. They more closely resemble, and in fact, actually are, businesses. As such, they are prone to the same parameters of small–or in some cases, even medium sized–businesses. When one views them as such, it puts into perspective what is necessary to make them successful. It brings, if you will, into view the great sacrifices necessary to bring your art to the public. Such sacrifices are much more on a par with entrepreneurial pursuits than, for example, the act of finding a job–at any level. The story of a writer becoming a success, is much more comparable to, to give a familiar example, what the original Col. Sanders went though to establish his business. (he presented his recipe licensing plan–which he later modified–hearing the word “no” over a thousand times before receiving a single “yes.”
Regarding the famed MFA, and also meaning no disrespect, and though I do mean it when I suggest that such things are not bad per sempre; I also believe your instincts are good in not pursuing one. Your style is enjoyable and distinctive, and as such, especially regarding your talent and life experience (which is invaluable) would be unnecessary–at least, in my humble opinion.
“The other problem is that I never finished high school, so I’d have to do a lot of academic work before I could even be considered for an MFA program. And, of course, the other other problem is that I don’t want one.”
The list of great writers without formal education is not a humble one!
In addition, I have an acquaintance who is able, with a few semiotic jots and tittles, to positively identify MFA writing, with almost 100% accuracy. Such programs tend to produce writing of a homogenized tone, and it often takes an MFA candidate/graduate a goodly number of years to find an individual voice once again. Academia is–as a general rule–very good at offering degrees in fields in which there is no need for degrees; which people may easily learn; or which people generally already know–as in the case of writing–how to do. Need I make reference to the famous quote from “Good Will Hunting” regarding autodidactism vs. academia?
In as much as MFA programs force one to write, and read, which all writers must do, such programs are not without merit; however, such programs tend to produce writers which sound alike, and, even worse, think alike.
It might not be advisable, on the other hand, to take advice from any aspiring writer, however, particularly a self-proclaimed amateur such as myself. I mean that very seriously. Your best advice and feedback comes from people who read, and do not write. There are your most plentiful customers and as such, when one of them says that they like something and/or that there is something they didn’t understand or find to be unclear, that really IS information that one can “take to the bank,” as it were. People who write have skewed perspectives when reading–for any number of reasons.
I shall leave it there, young man! (without even looking this behemoth over for errors!! I reserve the right to correct them if and when I repost this in one of my blogs :)