Posts Tagged: MFA
In large part, I get to live it now because of those creative writing programs—one MA and one MFA—and also, at least equally, because of the time between them, which I spent out in the real world. Here is some of what I have learned.
Recently, it has become fashionable to debate the pros and cons of pursuing a MFA. However, for the Millions, Hannah Gersen suggests that this debate has steered the conversation away from a more difficult question: how do we support writers who do not have the means to pursue graduate degrees?...more
There is a certain writerly allure to casino gambling that I find difficult to resist — or perhaps I should call it a not writing allure. Having a crowd chant my name as I shoot dice is not something I’ll ever experience revising sentences in the UNLV library.
Maggie Messitt writes a defense of low-residency MFA programs:
These are my people. And, because we have always lived away from one another, we learned from the start that writing is solitary, but we have each other. And, as a community, there was an overriding sense that your success is not my failure, rather your success is our success.
Last week, Ryan Boudinot published the MFA-disparaging essay/listicle/cranky advice column that launched a thousand angry tweets. Electric Literature has two responses: one supporting Boudinot’s core argument and one rebutting it....more
Many of us choose to pursue MFAs; many of us are also plagued with doubts about the value of a degree in creative writing. Former teacher Ryan Boudinot shares his thoughts about programs, publishing, and the unlikely chance that you’re the Real Deal:
I think the instant validation of our apps is an enemy to producing the kind of writing that takes years to complete… If you’re able to continue writing while embracing the assumption that no one will ever read your work, it will reward you in ways you never imagined.
That Guy in Your MFA is neither a guy nor a student in an MFA program. He’s actually a woman, Dana Schwartz, a Brown University undergraduate. Schwartz also runs the twitter Dystopian YA Novel that satirizes series like Divergent. She tells Chicago Reader that she invented the alter egos because her writing workshops had too many stories about guys on trains:
“They all had trains,” she says, “and a man leaving his family because he is too complicated and deep.
At The Morning News, seven writers with full-time jobs talk about how they fit (or attempt to fit) writing time into their work weeks, and the general conclusion is:
There isn’t an elegant solution to cramming a writing life into a non-writing life, just like there isn’t an elegant solution to the problem of trying to push a baby elephant into a slowly rolling Volkswagen.
Horace Engdahl thinks that creative writing programs and the walled-off communities academic programs create are hurting western literature. Since writing courses help monetize writing—and fund writers as professionals—Engdahl worries that the courses are removing writers from the real world. Engdahl finds fault with literary criticism, too:
“We talk in the same way about everything which is published, and literary criticism is poorer for it,” he said.
Scott Cheshire explains that he started flirting with the woman who became his wife by telling her he had a novel coming out. Twelve years later, it did. Today, he is a published novelist with a graduate degree, but back then, Cheshire hadn’t even been to college....more
MFA is dreamy, and the more MFA talks the dreamier MFA becomes, but there’s a practical you inside you that you have lately been encouraged to develop, and somewhat against your will, this you prompts you to ask, And then?
How would a writer without an MFA imagine an ideal Creative Writing degree program? Over at Ploughshares, Rebecca Makkai invites you to consider her optimal 2015/2016 course catalog, warning that “the course offerings will be much more practical than “Problems in Modern Fiction.” We’ll cover the things you need to know....more
Homogeneity in the literary scene isn’t a recent development. Earlier this year, Junot Diaz caused a stir by branding the unbearable too-whiteness of his workshop experience. Justin Torres and Ayana Mathis couldn’t help but contribute:
“One of the characters is sort of referred to as having something like almond skin, something that would identify the character as black.
Over at The Awl, Heather Havrilesky, a writer without an MFA, has some humorous and candid freelancing tips for her MFA students and us readers. Havrilesky knows we’ll appreciate this advice, since she’s “one of the only writers [her] students know who earns actual legal tender from her writing—instead of say, free copies of Ploughshares”:
It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell.
“Why are you so interested in MFAs and whether they’re a good idea or not?” asked Rumpus friend Sheila Heti, in a recent interview with the New Yorker. Heti, who did not attend grad school, believes that it is possible for writers to fully immerse themselves in their craft without the help of a program....more
Salon tracked down the syllabi of two undergrad courses the writer teaches at MIT, in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Department....more
There are a lot of people who have very strong feelings about MFA programs, but Blake Butler’s Vice piece “What I Remember from Getting an MFA in Creative Writing,” just sort of lays out the details and holds back on the judgment (not unlike good fiction, really)....more