Writers in Jeannine Cook’s Wednesday Essay as Activism Write@Home forum are working on essays based on Octavia Butler’s essay, Positive Obsession. This is a guest post by Patricia Martin, a writer in that forum. 

I don’t have an MFA and I don’t plan on getting one. But I do plan on becoming a successful writer. I have always had a love-hate relationship with school, mostly hate. But the love I have for writing and all the free time that I have now has convinced me that I need to learn more about the craft. The next best thing to getting an official degree is self-guided learning and I have found so many opportunities for that, I might as well be in school!

Zoom workshops, instructional classes, pre-recorded lessons – these are all available to me one click away thanks to free trials as a form of self-care and writing coalitions from all over the country, even the world, that I can participate in because no one can convene locally anymore. I spend at least four hours a day attending these sessions or preparing for them. I have even cut a pre-planned walk outside down to five minutes so that I wouldn’t be late for one of my classes. One time, OK, more than a few times, I’ve missed a family catch-up or friend happy hour Zoom call so that I could pour all of myself into learning more about writing.

Once, I convinced myself that I needed to take a break from my self-orchestrated curriculum because it started to feel like an obligation, a responsibility. Fun things shouldn’t feel like responsibility and writing is fun for me. But, not only did I feel guilty for missing the class, I ended up taking another one instead. I secretly hoped the one I’d purposely missed would be provided in recorded form. It wasn’t.

My Google calendar is colorfully filled up with all of these writing courses and while that looks a bit overwhelming, it also excites me. No matter how time-consuming this obsession has become, I still find myself online scanning never-ending Facebook and Eventbrite searches to find just a few more classes. Some might say this is a result of quarantine boredom or stress, but I know better.

I have learned so much from other writers talking about their craft, giving advice, and workshopping my own pieces in groups that I don’t care how strange it is to other people that I am opting to sit in classes and do homework when I don’t have to.

And just in case I do feel a pang of embarrassment, I just tell myself and anyone who cares to listen – look, I am just using this time to give myself an MFA equivalent; there’s nothing wrong with that.

Patricia Martin is a New Jersey-born writer, editor, and founder of the blog The Glam Femme. In addition to writing queer, POC-focused fiction, Patricia enjoys freelance writing and exploring her new city, Los Angeles. She has published articles in Shine Text, Go Magazine, Black Girl Nerds, AZ Magazine, and Color Bloq. Patricia is also an advocate who strives to inspire others. She believes that everyone has a voice if they look within to find it.