Like everything else pertaining to writers in New York City, the list of workshops, classes, and other events for writers is super-sized. Here are some highlights: If you are a freelance writer who craves a change of scenery, you’re in luck.The number of coworking spaces in the city has increased exponentially in recent years.There are hundreds of Meetup groups for New York writers.
Like everything else pertaining to writers in New York City, the list of workshops, classes, and other events for writers is super-sized. Here are some highlights: If you are a freelance writer who craves a change of scenery, you’re in luck.The number of coworking spaces in the city has increased exponentially in recent years.There are hundreds of Meetup groups for New York writers.Tags: Examples Of Literature Reviews In NursingLent Cover Letter FinanceGood Topics For An EssayMedicinal Cannabis Essay ThesisProblem Solving And Program DesignSat Essay Writing PracticeEssay Writing On The SatBachelor Thesis Private Equity
You might get the impression from the essay, and from the book as a whole, that people write fiction either to get a good teaching gig or to be toasted forevermore at New York parties, while commanding big advances. But it seems to me that the only thing that would make it an career choice would be spending one’s writing life trying to appeal to a dim, shifting notion of what either the academic or publishing marketplace wants.
(Though even a good advance runs out pretty quickly, as detailed in the book by both Keith Gessen and Emily Gould.) If this were the case, as Elif Batuman writes in her essay about “program fiction,” this system would “not generate good books, except by accident.”Luckily, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Good luck guessing right: the wind will have shifted half a dozen times in the course of writing a book.
) The New York writer, on the other hand, without the safety net of academia, feels an obligation to publish novels, and submits “to an unconscious yet powerful pressure toward readability.” (Anyone who’s tried to get through the big novels of a given publishing season might say, “Not powerful enough.”)In his introduction, Harbach writes that much of the mail he received after the publication of the original “MFA vs NYC” essay was from people who found the essay “extremely depressing.” He suggests that this is because he depicts the fiction writer “as a person constrained by circumstance—a person who needs money, and whose milieu influences the way she lives, reads, thinks, and writes.” On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a reason to hit the whiskey—yes, writers are people, and people need money.
I think what makes the essay depressing is Harbach’s assumption that anyone interested in writing fiction is operating with such narrow motivations.
“Students don’t take French or history classes because they want to become French or history professors; they take them because they want to learn about French and history,” he writes.
Writing students, however, inevitably want to become writers.“And so by teaching such a class, weren’t you taking part in that deception, in the deception that all these students might become writers?And weren’t you also forced, all the time, to lie to them, in effect, whether mildly or baldly, about their work?It was for “the time to write,” and because I “needed to get out of the city,” and, anyway, it was funded. Students respond to this hostility by churning out “solid, quiet work … graduates are loosed upon the world to publish formulaic Mc Stories, and then get hired to preach the gospel of drabness at other programs. Those reasons are nonsense, at least in my experience. More likely, he was just a once-in-a-generation genius whose preference for forward-thinking literature rendered the work of his professors and cohort unforgivably dull.As Alexander Chee writes in his contribution to the new essay collection “MFA vs NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction,” “New York provided a lot of opportunities to write, but also a lot of opportunities not to write, or to write the wrong things.” Like him, I didn’t think I’d be able to write the book I wanted “while chasing after other people’s copy.”But I also knew the rap on M. nice, cautious, boring Workshop Stories, stories as tough to find technical fault with as they are to remember after putting them down.” M. (“If only it were that easy,” mutter those of us who couldn’t write a story lacking “technical fault” if the ghost of Frank Conroy held a gun to our head.) Add to those fears the free-floating American anxiety about not appearing self-made—“a wine-chugging Hemingway firing a homemade rifle at a rabid shark from the back of a speeding ambulance,” as Chad Harbach puts it, in his introduction to the collection—and you’ve got some good reasons to avoid getting an M. Maybe things were different at the University of Arizona, where Wallace got his M. In any case, I learned more about writing fiction in one semester at Montana than I did in three years of writing and working in New York. as “taking twenty years of wondering whether or not your work could reach people and funneling it into two years of finding out.” But, once you achieve that—your work has reached the people in your workshop—things get tricky. He moves back to New York and works as a waiter for six years while writing his first novel, which he eventually sells.“Thus the congeniality of Brooklyn becomes a silky web that binds writers to the demands of the market, demands that insinuate themselves into every detail and email of the writer’s life.”This situation extends far beyond New York’s borders, even if most writers aren’t aware of the specific concerns and demands of the publishing industry. program, what it’s like to be a publicist for a New York house, what it’s like to be a published but financially strapped writer—but it rarely reminds the reader people bother with all this. This starts with Harbach’s essay, the germ of the collection. (He even argues that there is administrative pressure not to publish, which doesn’t quite ring true.Everybody wants to sell something to someone, even if “sell” sometimes means “give for free to a graduate student-run literary journal based out of North Dakota.” “MFA vs NYC” is a successful attempt to document certain segments of the literary landscape—what it’s like to attend an M. Despite the title, he doesn’t posit an adversarial relationship between the academic creative-writing track and the publishing industry; rather, he explains that they create different motivations and goals in the writer, and thus produce different kinds of work. The ideal situation for a school is a professor who continues to publish attention-getting work, thus drawing attention, better students, and more money to the program, no?Two and a half years ago, I left a job as an editorial assistant in New York for an M. Like many fiction writers in the making, I didn’t do it because I thought I needed to improve my writing. The archetypal anti-workshop argument was made by David Foster Wallace in “The Fictional Future,” a section of a 1988 essay that is reprinted in “MFA vs NYC.” In his telling, creative-writing programs are filled with teachers who would rather be writing than teaching, and who resent their students for the lost time. creative-writing program at the University of Montana.But, over the course of the semester, the students’ work gets better, and one of them shows serious promise she didn’t know she had. Gessen builds a syllabus he can use in perpetuity, cutting down on dreaded prep time.