In my professor's office this afternoon, I was told that I had never worked as a librarian. I was librarian for two years. I cataloged, I budgeted, I weeded, I designed programs and I trained people to circulate the six thousand books I drove up logging roads to small communities. I provided kids with the fodder their imagination demanded. I brought the elderly all the words that trigger the memories of the best moments of a well lived life. I was a librarian. My coworkers were librarians. They had degrees and I did not.
In three months, I'll have a Masters in librarian science and I've learned a few things about higher education.
1. I don't need it.
2. I won't be better at my job than I was before.
3. It was expensive.
I'm also a writer. I've been paid to write and I've been published. But, what I have that no institution could give me or takeaway with an entire stockpile of guns wielded by rabid academics is the ability to learn. I can learn from other writers online and I can educate myself on writing.
My creative ability is determined by me and not a critic or an editor. The halls of academia is only one convenient place to be educated and your best lessons may even come from your classmates. I won't be pursuing a degree in creative writing during this lifetime and probably out of sheer stubbornness, I think I may just avoid it in the next life, too.
No one has the right to determine what you make of your career... of your passion. Professions are not owned by the individuals who sell degrees. They are nothing short of the total sum of an identity of individuals who engage in an activity that they love. Some of the greatest writers were not formally educated. They may never have been paid for their work. They may have self-published.
What every writer must have is guts and determination, passion and imagination. They've got to fight the pains of rejection. A writer must set themselves into their work while negotiating their skills and their style. They have connect with others and they have to above all entertain or inform.
If a degree helps, it helps the individual who has already found the passion within themselves to engage in the process, the activity, the community of writers and writing.
Enjoy the life of writer!