Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Should you become an MMA Fighter, or an MFA Writer?

MMA Fighter Advantages:

  • Daily training has a direct result to your performance in the ring. Ergo, you never abandon a project in the gym that doesn't work because it all sort of works in physical fitness. This is not like daily writing.
  • Rejection, you say? Fist to the face! I punch you hard!
  • More social. It's hard to beat people up from the isolation of your quiet computer. Also, you'll need couches and training partners and stuff, plus cheerleaders. The cheerleaders might sleep with you.
  • More respect. People will actually recognize you on the street, and congratulate you, and be excited about your life's work.
  • Particularly for men, you will get a lot more respect out and about. Nothing attracts semi-homo-erotic straight man-crushes like MMA Fighters.
  • When you fail in the ring, you can still inspire people, because someone has to lost every fight.
  • Be part of a gladiatorial tradition that goes all the way back in time to the grand empires of history and warrior traditions from all over the world.
  • Ernest Hemingway would totally have been MMA fighting. You like Ernest Hemingway, right?
MMA Fighter Disadvantages:
  • Brain cell loss. 
  • Waking up in excruciating agony most of the time because grown men were beating your face with fists like hammers.
  • There's all these jujitsu ways to head and arm lock a dude that involve lots of sweaty crotch right in the victim's face. Sweaty crotch will almost always be flying at your face.
  • Getting hit so hard in the face you lose hearing and/or vision.
  • Waking up in hospitals with no memory of your loss.
  • Early onset arthritis.
  • Having to pay very close attention to what you eat.
  • Hanging out with other MMA fighters in your free time. ("Dude, I could kick that guy's ass. Want to fight him? No? Oh. Oh, okay. Can we fight someone else later? What? I thought you liked fighting.")
  • Girlfriends will expect you to beat up other men that disrespect them.
  • Spending the time after your career on a series of escalating painkillers until you know someday you will be so dazed on painkillers that you'll mix your cocktail wrong and accidentally kill yourself with a grapefruit or something.
MFA Writer Advantage
  • You get a Master's Degree. Titles are cool. Letters after your name are always impressive on resumes.
  • You get to tell your friends and family you are working on your grad school homework, and writing with their express blessing for a change, because your crazy, wasteful dream has become "homework".
  • Be a part of a grand, glorious tradition that extends back into the 1960s, which means there's definitely alcohol involved, and possibly experimenting with drugs, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • In the future, you could be an adjunct professor and possibly, someday, maybe move up to some sort of other sort of professor, which means someday you might could possibly be not on food stamps. (You'll probably be on food stamps as an adjunct.)
  • The government will let you borrow a vast fortune at a low interest rate to pay for your graduate degree, because higher learning is important.
  • Writing. You get to be writing. You get to hear about your work from other writers. Some of this advice might be pretty good. 
  • Meeting other writers, because cats are always better in a herd.
  • Getting honest, open feedback about your work from people that care and know what they're doing.
  • Creating space to write, read, and write some more inside an otherwise busy life. Okay, that's very positive, and a real advantage and this one is last because, all jokes aside, it's the best.
MFA Writer Disadvantages
  • Career choices generally shouldn't be described with the hashtag #YOLO. I'm pursuing my dream of writing because #YOLO!
  • The government will want you to pay back those loans, and you will never, ever escape them. You can't clear them in bankruptcy. If you can lift a finger after a horrible accident, you will be expected to pay, and some judge will tell you "You should have thought about the possibility of this horrible, crippling accident before you took out your irresponsible loans!"
  • Your higher learning degree qualifies you to be an adjunct writing instructor, in a world where most programs seem to want Ph D writers, now that such things are being offered. And, seriously, what the heck is a Ph D writer? Doesn't that seem like the sort of thing that ought not to exist? Seriously. (Brain surgeons are doctors. Indiana Jones, the anthropologist, is a doctor. Poets are not supposed to be doctors. They are supposed to be rock stars.)
  • Since you'll never be tenured or full-time, you will work in a hazy cloud of desperation and fear.
  • The "real world" of business and industry will think your degree is fruity. 
  • Meeting other writers, because the collected class members in a room will closely resemble the living room of a crazy cat lady, and we all know how that ends. Pee in the floor. Hairballs. Gross.
  • Sometimes the writing advice you get will be very bad, and/or dangerous to your career. It doesn't even take much. The wrong writing mentor for you can really hurt your career.
Am I missing anything? I'm trying to make an effective and useful list, here.

I chose the latter path. Perhaps I should have spent more time punching people in the face and less time writing? Who knows!

(This is a joke list, by the way, and seriously, if you have to ask and poke around about it, go get the MFA. It's better to regret failure than to regret never, ever trying, at all.)
(Also, seriously, if you're interested in either one, do both. The MMA Fighter thing will provide great material for the MFA Writer thing, and the MFA Writer thing will help you come up with mighty taunts to confuse your opponents. It's a win-win!)

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