Thursday, March 12, 2015
Waiting For Inspiration In The Cornfields Of Iowa
A fellow named Ryan Boudinot recently put a bit of stick about in an article he wrote about Masters in Fine Arts programs for creative writers. His article is called Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One. In a rather snarky way, Boudinot pointed out something that I have long agreed with: if you have the talent to write and you spend incredibly long hours working it beginning when you are very young, you have no need to attend a MFA Writing program. In fact, you are likely just wasting your time if you do. If you are enrolled in an MFA program, that might be proof enough you don't have what it takes to succeed. Years ago, I read Steven King's book on writing. He said something along the lines of the following: if you have some talent, writing school can probably enhance it. But no amount of schooling anywhere will close the gap between the clever and the brilliant. It's not fair, of course. But talent alights in the strangest places. Some people born with amazing gifts for telling stories might never write a word down. Other people without talent might toil away forever in the local Starbucks, writing and rewriting, and never have anything significant to say. True talent is extraordinarily rare. I wonder if anyone watches a major league pitcher throwing strikes at 95 miles per hour and thinks if I just went to grad school for a couple of years in Iowa, I could do that. I hope not. That is not magical thinking. That is not even thinking. It is something well less than thinking. If I ever met anyone in a MFA writing program I would offer this advice: Drop out. Today. Never look back. Instead, write what you want and put it out to the world. If it's good enough or hits the right notes, the public will find you. If not, so be it.