This weekend was my last weekend as a student. Perhaps ever. Though never say never. It's been long years since I matriculated at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. I did so three and a half years ago. It seems much longer than that.
There are some difficult emotions within the ending of an era, no matter how small. But this graduation marks the last time I expect to be a student. When I finished my undergrad I always expected to get my MFA in creative writing. I took two years off, and that's what I did. I had a plan. I knew this was what I would do.
The Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, was an accredited MFA program that was not associated with a college or university. It was the only program of its kind which was established and run by a institution of writers. When I put it like that, it seems less surprising that it had to end.
As a young writer I knew so little about the writing process, I was so naive. I felt inspiration was more artistic than desperation, the act of writing every day was how those who couldn't find inspiration dealt with their lack of creatitivity. How wrong I was.
The Northwest Institute of Literary Arts did not have the budget for best selling authors, nor the facilities for the most comfortable residencies (it was a low residency program). But what it lacked in funds it made up for in the careful nuanced education of active working writers--writers who don't write slop and let their names carry them to publication--writers who fought tooth and nail to make a living at a craft so devalued by capitalism.
But my friends are going to be most sorely missed. When, I asked myself, as I drove away, when will we all meet again in such a place. To do nothing else than talk and share company. To ask about agents and publications. To talk craft. To play at workshop. There was no answer, because nobody knows. I am proud to have been part of the final graduating class from the school--but it comes with deep sadness that the culture surrounding the program will never be remade.