Confessions of an MFA First Year: Semester 1

December 17, 2019
I've never read Faulkner or Twain, Melville or Joyce. Not Kafka, not Wilde, not Woolf, not Chaucer, not Tolstoy, not *insert widely acclaimed author of classics here*.

What's more is that I don't have the inclination to read these authors, even after completion of my first semester of a three-year MFA program (ayyy. Turned in (1) final portfolio and emailed (1) final paper yesterday). Though I, on occasion, felt semi-inadequate and out of place in a fiction workshop full of classics-inclined writers, I still hold no desire to read these authors who are held as the gold standard, whose works are turned to again and again as examples of the craft done right, as creators of the novel. There may be a book or two passed over in discussion that sparked my interest, but as a whole, my outlook hasn't changed much, even after finding myself lost in literary references.


I'm not some writing counterculturist trying to differentiate myself from the literature lovers of academia just for the sake of doing so. There are books that I want to read, books that I don't want to  read, and books that I am indifferent about reading. Most of the classics fall into that last category. In my (especially now) limited free reading time, I want to read what I like to write.

I know it goes that you should not limit yourself and that you should strive to be explorative in your reading and writing and all that, but I don't see why I should feel that I have to prioritize one genre or one author over another (just because they're "classics" or "pioneers") to improve my writing.

Other things? I went to my first reading this semester. I went to a few, actually. One because I had to, the others because I was expected to. And I did not enjoy them. I don't like poetry (not entirely opposed to attempting to write it, but I do not like reading it... arguably, without the latter, the former is impossible). And I really don't like being read to. So, combine the two and we have something that utterly bores me. My mind wanders, listening to the drone of the reader's voice. That's something, too. It seems that no matter the pitch, tone, and other vocal nuances of the individual reader, the spoken pace of poetry is the same. And it bores me. Sorry.

More? I learned how to provide detailed craft feedback on a variety of story styles and genres and how to properly engage in a fiction workshop. Also learned that having your story workshopped by a bunch of people who actually give a shit is pretty awesome. I also learned that lit theory is dense af and how to unearth a car from layers of snow (an unpadded Swiffer mop is not the tool to use, but will work in a bind).

See you in the new year.

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