So the Internet of writers blew up over an essay written by Ryan Boudinot called “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.”
I felt saddened that an Instructor would cling to the notion that “Writers are born with talent”; though I grieved more for the number of persons who consoled this concept of predetermination.
Indeed, certain mental attributes preclude writing mastery: analysis, theorization, extrapolation, recreation, innovation, and adaptability come to mind. However, a lacking of one or more of these qualities can be traced back to various environmental circumstances or personable circumstances.
For example, America still lingers on the edge of authoritarian parenting. One of the major drawbacks to this style of parenting is that it relies heavily on Negative Reinforcement. Negative Reinforcement deters desire to commit an action. When overused or used out of situation, this method of control damages a person’s sense of desire; and he/she may generally suppress desire altogether, or hide it, or feel ashamed to want something.
Desire drives intellectual skills, and a student raised from a heavily disciplined childhood will usually struggle in a creative writing course. The student may lack confidence in herself, lack faith in her writing, or outright lack the prerequisite creativity traits; because she was too scared to exercise these traits growing up.
Now, I suppose these circumstances could be classed as Fate, but I don’t care; not in as it relates to teaching.
The teacher’s purpose is to identify weaknesses in the students, and help them to correct those weaknesses.
If an aspiring writer lacks key intellectual skills to become an elite writer, then help him/her to develop those skills!
Which brings me to the point that bothered me; and I speak not of the points he made, because he gives some good advice:
- If you don’t have the time to write, make the time.
- Write for yourself, not the teacher.
- Make writing a passion first and a profession second.
I echo these sentiments.
This is what I found offensive:
“Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.”
He perceived improvements within students’ work/mindset/passion but to failed to address his qualms with those students? To those students?
I don’t know what goes into the MFA program, but If I pay for assistance in achieving mastery in a craft, and you are my teacher, I am purchasing your subjectivity. If you don’t like my writing, I expect you to tell me what you don’t like and why. If you don’t think I belong in the literary world then you better tell me why; because your critique has been paid for and is owed!
Those students got robbed of their feedback; not to mention the assistance that could/would/should have followed pending said feedback.
I’m aware I promised a post within the last week and failed to meet that promise.
I don’t know if anyone holds me to that, but I disappointed myself. I’m aiming to put up two short stories between now and next Sunday, and at least one other non-story post (I’ll probably share some of my favorite Touhou arranges).
For now, I’m going write and listen to Desire Drive, because I used the phrase earlier in this post 🙂
Desire Drive by ZUN, arranged by TAMUSIC
Finish your weekend well ^_^