gall and gumption

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pls. Advise, Thx

For reasons too dull to enter into, I bought a hard copy of Poets & Writers magazine last week. It was the one with Toni Morrison on the cover, if that is of any interest to you. I am old enough to remember when it was a stapled magazine, a newsletter really, with about four or six spreads. Now it is quite a fat book with a color cover. The reason for this quite incredible growth is apparent immediately you open the magazine, and this reason stays before your eyes all the way to the end.

Creative writing school ads.

Which brings me to my question. All these M.F.As. That's a lot of M.F.As! Where do they go afterwards? Are they all getting published? What are they getting exactly?

Does it seem weird to you that there are so many creative writing schools? What proportion of their graduates are getting published? And why?

Does this incredible number of ads also suggest to you that the hope of literary fame is one hell of a cash cow for an English department? Remember when English departments turned their noses up at Creative Writing? I do.

Seriously, though. Does it all seem a little crazy to you? It does to me.


At 5:57 PM, Anonymous buckner said...

The Creative Writing MFA is an anthill compared to the mountain of Fine Art MFA programs, with their much longer and more devious history. This pyramid scheme has artists teaching more artists to teach more artists (to infinity) to be.... what? Under this model everybody would eventually have an art school in their own home. Hmmm... not a bad idea!

At 8:17 PM, Blogger IGotYerBlog said...

Doesn't stifle *enough* of 'em, know what I mean? No? Well, that's 'cause I don't mean nothin'. So, y'know, never mind.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Chuckling said...

Most of the MFA's I know went into tech support. One manages a bookstore. Several continued teaching comp. One became a fictional character on the internets. Published? The better question would be paid?

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Vanity presses, specialized writing gigs, pR0n, gothick tea party organizing, promising downstream income from famous writers upsells, bodice ripper Yahoo groupisms, online art of writing programs, multi-level Noir writing-cum-B&D paraphenalia - lots o' career trajectories.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Juke said...

Yah as matrullo say.
Vanity press writ large.
The pretty real and very large distance between creative writing and the selling of same.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Kia said...

There was a long feature about how to prolong the feeling of community you got from your workshop or MFA program. The ability to have a conversation about your creative work with a similarly committed group of others is something. I mean, at least that far the workshops speak to a real need; for that intensity of interest. Cynical me looks at the academic side of it and sees what buckner sees. But less cynical me sees a real social need that these programs don't quite meet, though they profess to. And then another me starts to wonder, well, how much affirmation and support and yakkety-yak do artists or writers need? I suppose we all need some, but I know how bad the "writing group" or "workshop" can be. With just my notebooks, I've had periods in the last five-six years of being more alone than at any other time in my life. I mean, I have drunk deep of the well of loneliness, and learned not to be afraid of being alone, but to think, "That's what writing is for."

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