First Semester MFA Takeaways

  • Remove dust jackets from hardcover books before use;
  • Drafts should be completed and started over from the remembered remnants;
  • “Real writing” takes place over winter break;
  • Anxiety is normal and should be encouraged (i.e. the productive kind);
  • Workshop leaders will continue to confuse first-person narrators with their progenitors — even in graduate school;
  • Writing about one’s homeland is one’s birthright and opens the deepest, most intimate veins of narrative; (Where is my homeland?)
  • Proper literary criticism assumes an author anticipated and intended all undergraduate-level interpretations;
  • Plot problem? Have sex/a gunman enter a room/leave a room;
  • Write with AUTHORITY;
  • Telling is quicker than showing;
  • Columbia MFA work goes in the priority pile (what is the priority pile?);
  • One can assume that strangenesses that don’t quite cohere to a narrative are taken directly from an author’s life.

    More as I think of it….

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