Interesting article on MFA , Writing

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by BeBop, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. BeBop

    BeBop Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2014
    Location:
    Neverneverland
  2. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,720
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    In a van down by the river
    It is an interesting article, and one that has a bit too much ivory towerism in it for me. 7 years and only came out with 2 novels and some shorts? The part of the comparison between writing and music for me is the volume. You have to write/play a TON to get better. We can go back to the 10,000 hour idea for mastery from Gladwell. Our author seems to have bogged down trying to get their work just right. Maybe I've got it wrong.

    My wife is a fictional author who just published her 4th book. We met in an online critique group, and both write quite a bit. Most of mine is academic these days, but I keep plugging away at novels 5&6.

    Not sure I agree with the, you either have it or don't, bit. Writing is a skill set, like playing an instrument. Listening is like reading. If you aren't listening/reading, you likely aren't going to have much to say.

    Brain research says people are their most creative before at 30, and our fluid intelligence (the part that influences creativity the most) begins to decline after early adulthood. I think this is true. Most of the world's most famous musicians had their best work in their early years. However, there are plenty of writers and musicians who have much to say as they age. I agree with the author, getting started later in life is never ideal, but we all know of exceptions to the rule. If it brings you joy, then do it.

    You write or play because you have to, no matter your circumstances. Compelling article. Thanks for posting it.
     
  3. Neer

    Neer Member

    Messages:
    12,141
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    NJ
  4. fetishfrog

    fetishfrog Member

    Messages:
    8,294
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Location:
    Leaky basement
    Interesting stuff.

    The woodshedding point cannot be understated. You have to put in the time.

    An early start is certainly helpful, but not imperative. You can 'make up for lost time' though dedicated woodshedding.

    Before 30? I'd argue there are so many of the greatest musicians (not necessarily the most famous) whoever lived who produced their 'best' works after 30, that there are too many exceptions to the rule for the rule to apply here. For the production of art, informed wisdom that one can only be earned though living certainly can steer art in a unique direction.

    For things like math, science, tech, etc, the rule seems more apt.
     
  5. ungarn

    ungarn Member

    Messages:
    3,261
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Location:
    Springboro, Ohio USA
    Interesting article.
    Does not come across as someone "excited" to teach.
    I would agree that an MFA can make anyone a better writer, but does not guarantee a great writer.
    Also...great writers do not need an MFA.
    Writing does need practice to develop skill.
     
  6. teledude55

    teledude55 Member

    Messages:
    4,475
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2011
    Location:
    River City
    I've always felt that MFAs aren't worth the money unless you want to teach. There are libraries full of books by writers that never had an MFA. I took post grad writing programs at UCLA with the same Profs that taught the MFA students for 1/5th the money. Many times I heard that our work was better than what the MFA people put out. I always thought the best thing about MFA programs would be able to just lock yourself away and write in a supportive environment for a couple years. For the money it costs though I would rather go to Law school.
     
  7. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,720
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    In a van down by the river
    This would be the only reason why I would consider it, other than the teaching, as you also pointed out.

    However, with professors like this in an MFA program, how supportive would it be?
     
  8. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,720
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    In a van down by the river
    Disagree. The majority of artists, writing, performance, visual, etc, created their best work in early adulthood. However, once you get your chops up, you can ride those, along with life experience, a long time.

    You cannot make up for lost time. It is a neural issue. If you are learning at a young age, when you go through the last sizable neural pruning phase in adolescence, you have lowered your ceiling for subjects you aren't yet pursuing. Doesn't mean you can't be great at X, but your ceiling will not be as high as it would be had you started earlier.
     
  9. BeBop

    BeBop Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2014
    Location:
    Neverneverland
    Exactly one of the reasons I posted this :)

    The main thing I take away from the article is this - it takes hard work, dedication, and immense passion to excel at something. If you want to be the best you can be, you cannot slack. I think that is why he uses the examples he does, like the girl who had problems reading the Great Gatsby because it had words in it that she had to go look up.

    I really connected with the immersion part. I moved to Nashville 4 years ago, as a lifelong rock guitarist. What I knew about country music could have fit in a thimble. It has taken me 4 years of being immersed in country music to get to the point where I am now comfortable that I can actually can play country music authentically, instead of just sounding like some rock guy trying to play country music.
     
  10. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,720
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    In a van down by the river

Share This Page