MFA in creative writing



WINNER: Frank Tas


Contests / 9 Comments
February 22nd, 2011 / 12:41 am

MFA Applicant Waiting To Hear Back (c. 1615; Oil on canvas)



Contests / 67 Comments
February 14th, 2011 / 1:40 am

The School

At The School the creative writing undergrads will be allowed to write only about their hobby. Homework assignments will go like this: “Go home, and do your hobby.” Readings will include rule-books (if your hobby was boccie, etc) or instruction manuals (if your hobby was creating birdhouses out of Q Tips, etc). If you have no hobby, you are immediately expelled from The School.

Grad students in creative writing at The School will be allowed to write only about their job. Homework assignments will go like this: “Go home, and do your job.” Readings will include employment manuals (if your job was lifeguard at city pool, etc), local maps (if your job was delivering various types of paper, etc), or instructional material (if your job was to monitor the unloading of industrial chemicals from train tankers, etc). If you have no job, you are immediately expelled from The School.

Workshop will take place in the pond. The students will sink or swim, in silence.

Random / 12 Comments
January 17th, 2010 / 5:15 pm

Workshop of Horrors

Crazy is OK. Who hasn’t awoken on the kitchen floor, naked? And hanging out with/knowing/dating Crazy can be fun, or funny. Loud-Talker, Close-Talker, Person-Who-Eats-Only-Boiled Potatoes, every mélange and mishmash of personality—it’s cool.

But English departments have small rooms. And they seem to stuff workshops in the tiniest, the concrete walls, flickering fluorescent hum, chalkboard with that awful stuff, chalk. Like a bonfire, Crazy is Ok with a bit of open space, but in a small, closed room, the romance of the cracking heat tends to burn.

Did I mention the semester begins today?

What is your workshop horror story? I’ll flavor the pot with my top 3.

1.) Student of mine who brought a coffee mug of vodka and OJ to class every meeting (no big problem [maybe–he did get a bit sloppy/vociferous at times, and I had to tell him more than once that the phrase “words-of-ass” is never appropriate or helpful feedback] except for when the woman next to him narked).

2.) Student of mine who wrote intricate, detailed, very specific story about killing every member of the class in intricate, detailed, very specific ways. In a recent post-911 environ of paranoia, this incident ended up involving the ABI (Alabama state FBI) and two undercover cops who pretended they were college students.

3.) Fellow student (this in grad school) who leaped up and screamed into all our faces (causing crying and/or additional screaming) because the instructor insulted Richard Nixon. Was I frightened? Indeed.


Random / 106 Comments
January 11th, 2010 / 9:43 am

Mean Monday: Christy Call Talks Shit About(3) the MFA in Creative Writing (for personal reasons)

This conversation did no go as I ‘hoped’ it would. I wanted Christy to talk shit about people who talk shit about MFA programs, but instead she just talked shit about MFA programs. She is hard to control, I admit.

Enjoy, I guess:

me: what should we talk about next?
Chris: hmm
  i dont know/
me: mfa programs?
  poeple who make fun of mfa programs?
Chris: that sounds good
  or programs that pretend to be mfa programs but arent
  like my program
  that now has an mfa program
me: ?
  oh right
  they faked you out
Chris: haha ya
  fake out!
me: fake out!
  now give us your moeny
Chris: lots of it
me: all of it

The situation at her university is this: she is enrolled in an MA program in creative writing, but the university has just started an MFA program very recently. I believe the MA program is in the continuing education department or something and requires less credits in order to complete the degree.

So, what do people think? Comment on stuff or something: talk shit about the MFA or talk shit about the shit-talkers. Complain about how boring such a discussion really is. Post recipes. I don’t know. Don’t do anything.

What tattoos do people have?

Mean / 28 Comments
November 17th, 2008 / 2:01 pm

Fiction Workshops Examined

I don’t know what the secret of success is for writers, but I doubt it has anything to do with writing workshops. To be blunt (and it is Mean Week), it seems like you’re just paying strangers to take mild interest in your work. This might even be the case with an MFA in writing—who knows; I work full-time at an office and publish mere ‘flash’ online, so that tells you how much I know.

I google imaged “fiction workshop” and have written about some photos I’ve found.


Maybe they’re gearing us up for a life of the ‘starving artist,’ or maybe it’s some Hindu thing. All I know is, any more pressure on that women’s coccyx and she’s gonna accidentally CTRL-A and hit backspace. There goes two weeks of writing lady. Life is unfair, you should hit the save button more often.


The guy’s already zipped up this bag. Shawl women in the middle is looking at for the nearest fire escape. Ms. Happy on the right can’t believe it’s already :57. They are thinking “I’m down 300 dollars and my ego is still a wet fish flopping over the barren plateau of my non-existent career.” Either that, or we got some major bladder issues.


If art is indeed a microcosm of society, then, as usual, the black people are pissed—and for good reason. I imagine they just got through reading five stories about boyfriends and living in apartments and trouble with granny or a weekend in Cape Cod that turned out colder than one thought. Tiesha (let’s call her that) works two jobs at KFC and Carl’s Jr., and she’s not in the fucking mood to hear white bitches moan about a blowjob gone bad.


If you are a writer, deep down inside you think this: “My stories are better than this asswhipe over here. What kind of self-involved baby writes in the first-person anyways?” Graciousness is a myth; we are all resentful at attention directed at someone else; like every time Blake gets into another journal (which is every other day), I say ‘fuck him, I hope he cuts his cornea with the table of contents.’


I’m not one for creating gender stereotypes, but seriously, women think fiction is better outside for some reason. It must have been E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India that started this fascination with abandoning one’s domestic prison and going outside into the sand swept wind. Of course, take away their sunglasses, suntan lotion, sunhats, and folding chairs and they’d be fucked. They’d come back into the foyer looking like Bukowski’s nose, or worse, Joan Didion’s face. (Be nice now, it’s mean week.)

Mean & Random / 58 Comments
October 15th, 2008 / 2:01 pm