Shame Makes Us Who We Are


Anyone who has ever been in a creative writing workshop knows the type of shame ordinarily suffered only by lifestyle submissives. And in the new Bookforum, Mark Grief, while reviewing Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, plays with McGurl’s idea that the shame inherent in academia has in fact helped define an entire era of literature.

Raymond Carver, for example, “turned shame at exposure into the mark of depth, made unwillingness to speak and selective revelation the signs of mastery,” all because, unlike someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald, he had to work in academics to support himself.  This makes me want to write a thousand page book that I never workshop once, all while being supported by a benefactor. Any takers?

Seth Fischer's writing has appeared in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He will be a 2014 Lambda Literary Emerging Voicing Fellow and was a 2013 Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. He also teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Find more writing of his writing at, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →