I gained something the day I accepted my MFA and I'm not talking about my degree. I gained respect for anyone who has ever completed an advanced degree. Yes, I respect you too, you BA and BS people. But it's not the same. I respect the work, the time, the commitment, the cost, the late nights, the walks across campus in the dead of winter.
I felt that I had joined a club. It's not exclusive. Lots and lots of people have advanced degrees.
Then I finished my novel. That's not unique either. After all, if you have an advanced degree, you've most likely written a dissertation - original research that is um...a book.
My novel, like any story, has a plot with characters who grow and develop and follow a complete story arc. And like working towards my MFA, it took time, research, commitment, cost, but no long walks across campus in any weather though.
After I finished, I began to look at books with fresh eyes, especially the ones I didn't like. I recently finished a book that on a five point scale didn't even register. I finished it because I had no idea what the point was. I was annoyed at the author who wrote as if she were auditioning for the role of "dictionary diva." But as I turned the pages, I came across one line of text that described a motor boat ripping a zipper of waves in its wake. I still disliked the story and I won't seek out this author again but yes - you wrote a book and that one line earned my respect. I know how hard that book was to write. Even a bad book takes time. That one line of text flashed an image in my mind like a light that jolts you out of your bed in the middle of the night.
You are a writer and you put words on paper in a way that made me see. I respect you wrote that.