After I received my degree in 1999, I spent seven years writing work that no one has ever read—two novels and a book's worth of stories totaling about 1,500 final draft pages.
One student, having finished his assigned books early, asked me to assign him three big novels for the period between semesters.
He read all three and submitted an extra-credit essay, too. Conversely, I've had students ask if I could assign shorter books, or—without a trace of embarrassment—say they weren't into "the classics" as if "the classics" was some single, aesthetically consistent genre.
Students who claimed to enjoy "all sorts" of books were invariably the ones with the most limited taste. ), told me she preferred to read books "that don't make me work so hard to understand the words." I almost quit my job on the spot.
No one cares about your problems if you're a shitty writer.
I worked with a number of students writing memoirs.
One of my Real Deal students wrote a memoir that actually made me cry. For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy.My advice is for writers to reject the old models and take over the production of their own and each other's work as much as possible. After eight years of teaching at the graduate level, I grew increasingly intolerant of writing designed to make the writer look smart, clever, or edgy.I know this work when I see it; I've written a fair amount of it myself.Their complaints are an insult to the writers who managed to produce great work under far more difficult conditions than the 21st-century MFA student.On a related note: Students who ask if they're "real writers," simply by asking that question, prove that they are not.There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one.But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one's 30s or 40s is probably too late.Those who didn't get it were stuck on the notion that their writing was a tool designed to procure my validation.The funny thing is, if you can put your ego on the back burner and focus on giving someone a wonderful reading experience, the cleverest writing. Occasionally my students asked me about how I got published after I got my MFA, and the answer usually disappointed them.recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program.I had a handful of students whose work changed my life.