A WOMAN’S PEROGATIVE
I had another posting ready for today but decided to put up this one instead. The reason for the switch is a blog by Ryan Boudinot I read recently entitled, “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.” If you happened to come across it, you may have had a strong reaction to it. As I did. And as over eighty-five commenters (as of this writing) did also.
In case you haven’t read the blog, you may be interested to know Mr. Boudinot is an author of some note (i.e. Blueprints of the Afterlife, Misconception), the director of the
of Literature and an
erstwhile teacher in an (unnamed) MFA program. Seattle
The thrust of his blog is largely a rant, bitter at times, concerning the quality or lack thereof of MFA students. He castigates them for lack of talent, not starting the creative writing process early enough in life, lack of drive, lack of imagination, lack of interest in the classics, yadada, yadada, yadada.
Understandably, the bulk of the 85 comments consist of high charged outrage, calling Boudinot burned out, a mediocre writer, insensitive--you get the drift. But I’m not weighing in on the blog for any of the above reasons, but for the following paragraph, which I’m quoting verbatim:
“It's not important that people think you're smart.
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. But writing that's motivated by the desire to give the reader a pleasurable experience really is best. I told a few students over the years that their only job was to keep me entertained, and the ones who got it started to enjoy themselves, and the work got better. 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, that's the cleverest writing.”
In this, if arguably not in his other observations, Mr. Boudinot is, in my opinion, spot on. So you can see the whole picture, here’s the link to the blog.