It’s been interesting to see the responses to that interview, particularly to this casual remark made by Hughes: “It increasingly seems to be the case that people who are interested in pursuing a writing career attend MFA programs.”
Both graduates of prestigious MFA programs and writers who don’t have the degree seem somewhat defensive. As someone who’d love to attend an MFA program but can’t right now for both personal and financial reasons, I think I understand both points of view, although I tend to sympathize more with writers who haven’t had that opportunity. If you’re an ambitious person, with or without the degree, it’s easy to panic about your chances for success. Unfortunately, it’s much easier than writing. That panic and worry serve to do little more than distract beginning writers from their purpose — which is to focus on the writing and not so much on the career.