Monday, November 29, 2010

MFA programs today

"...MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing schools for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the '70s), and more as an ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market."

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4 comments:

Sarah said...

To say nothing of conning people into thinking that an MFA will get them a job, book contract or connections. It's fucking shameful.

Justin Sirois said...

I agree.

I feel like if you’re a writer who is active in the creative community, has a presence online, and seeks honest constructive criticism from unbiased piers, then you’re living in a constant, thriving MFA program. Go to readings. If your town doesn’t have a good reading series, start one. Create an indie press or a journal and make it a vital part of the literary culture, make it fun and powerful; the financial investment alone is a fraction of what an MFA costs and you’ll get basically the same out of the experience. Be hard on yourself all the time. Write every day no matter what. Read as much as you can. Do favors. Learn book design and layout. Make friends with established writers. Choose a mentor. Break up with people. Make your own rules. Make lots of mistakes. Buy people drinks and kiss them. And realize that a book deal doesn’t necessarily bring success and happiness – feedback from authors you love, having a dedicated fan base, and making compelling work – that’s happiness.

The ball is in our court, not the universities. Thank God.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Sirois said...

Indeed.