One of the speakers we had at the beginning of the 6 weeks was asked the question, "Could you have done what you've done without going through an MFA program? (MFA = Masters in Fine Arts) He answered wholeheartedly "No." He said he grew so much while pursuing his masters here, and he would never have been published if he hadn't gone through an MFA program.
I don't think it's so much that the teachers are showing me how to create a character, or how to outline a plot. You have to do that on your own, and there isn't any magic formula. What the program is doing for me is exposing me to literature I probably wouldn't have read on my own, teaching me how to read like a writer, and making me question the words I put on a page. I think I'm developing more of the mentality of a writer by being immersed in it.
Writing isn't just telling a story and loving your characters. That's all well and good, but there is a great deal more to think about. I honestly believe that by the end of this I will have a novel I can be proud of, with more layers to it than I would have written on my own. And maybe I'll earn a little respect and success in the publishing world too... dreaming big :)