MFA Category

If you’re trying to lie about how much you like something, here are two things you should NEVER say.

When I was in graduate school, we had a grad student reading series. And in this grad student reading series, we had to introduce our fellow students. And in these introductions, we were required to say nice things about their work. However, you didn’t get to choose who you would introduce: it was semi-randomly assigned […]

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What people really mean when they ask, “Did your MFA help you to sell your book?”

Recently several people have asked me whether my MFA helped me get my book deal. Actually, the question is usually both more and less blatant than that. It’s “Would you still have your book deal if you hadn’t gone to your MFA program?” I understand why people ask the question. My book went to auction […]

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Sometimes, when you’re in the darkest and gloomiest part of the writing process, the workshop cliche is what saves you

Usually, the suggested fixes that you’re given by a writing workshop are pretty mechanical and, oftentimes, not very coherent. The thing that workshop does well, though, is diagnose the problems that need to be fixed. Because stories are so complicated and need to work on so many levels, it’s very possible to create a story that’s all tone or […]

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Coming up on my last workshop at Johns Hopkins (and perhaps my last one for a long time)

Already some of the other people I’ve spent the last two years with are figuring out their next steps. And I’m working on my final story for workshop. There is a bittersweetness to it, just as there is to all endings. For the last 20 or so months, our MFA workshop has been a constant […]

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Sometimes it’s pretty hilarious to watch creative writing try to slot itself in as an academic discipline

As I noted on Facebook yesterday, Hopkins has recently moved to publishing its theses online. The website that outlines the many benefits of this system notes: Why are we doing this? Easier on the student–no more printing hassles Wider dissemination–your dissertation will be freely available to the world soon after you graduate This makes sense […]

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Had a lot of fun reading at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society tonight, though I wonder how long it’ll be before I’m not an SF writer anymore

Just finished reading at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s quarterly Dangerous Voices reading. There were lots of people there, and I really had a fun time talking to everyone. I love how wonderful and democratic the science fiction world is, and I like how the people are genuinely bound by their love of media. The […]

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I feel like it shouldn’t be controversial to say this, but…plenty of literary fiction is pretty good.

Every time I write anything about the world of academic creative writing, people will post comments that are all like, “Yeah, right on, Rahul! Those guys only write awful books about old white male professors who want to fuck their students!* You need to stick it to all that boringness!” Whereas, I’m like…ehh…that’s not really […]

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Why you should hate the creative writing establishment (…as if you needed any more reasons)

I used to hear it said that, demographically speaking, science fiction readers skewed working class and literary fiction readers skewed middle class. And I never believed it. After all, reading is a pretty effete, high-brow activity, no matter what book you’re holding. And, furthermore, SF seems very closely associated with engineering and coding and other […]

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[Wrap-up 2013] If someone asked me whether or not they should get an MFA, I’m not sure I’d be able to wholeheartedly recommend it

I’ve now reached the end of my 3rd semester as an MFA student. Only one more to go, and then I’ll have a degree! I’ve enjoyed it a lot, actually. The people are fun and interesting (I’ve never been around people who were so interested in books before). The workload is unbelievably light (this day […]

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The primary negative outcome of the existence of the ‘institutional method’ for succeeding as a writer

Yesterday, I talked about the institutional route and the anointing process. And I don’t think there’s anything per se wrong with anointing. However, I do think that it has a few perverse and unexpected consequences. I think that there is a belief within the creative writing academy–a belief that is sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious–that […]

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