Long before I published my first novel, I tried to join a neighborhood fiction writing workshop, only to be told by one member, 'Sorry, come back when you get published. We can't accept novices.' Yeah, that stung.
Social media is supposedly the answer to the eternal question of what will make your book a hit, and there are hundreds of people willing to sell you a book (or their consulting services) that they guarantee will reveal the secret to success. It's all 21st-century snake oil.
Alice Munro's writing, like all great writing, teaches us to be human. It engages big questions in small spaces: What does it mean to be regional? What does it mean to be Canadian? What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be betrayed?
With on-demand publishing companies putting out the works of over 400,000 self-published titles and MFA programs cranking out a slew of new writers, readers are more and more in demand... especially readers who do not want to be writers and who are satisfied with the pure joy of reading.
As writers, we need to be aware of the ways in which our work can be read; weeding out the useful from the non-useful is an important skill, as is reading closely for what might be improved. But it can be a slippery slope.
Creative writing is a subset of therapy, with the same essential modalities -- except, like everything else in our culture, it comes in a stripped, dumbed down version that partakes little of the rigors of psychotherapy.
A degree is not something I look for when selecting artists for Offramp Gallery. The bottom line is always the work. I look for work that's honest, creative, original, skillfully executed and intensely visual.
Frey's atelier is not all that different from the MFA programs themselves, in that both extract huge amounts of resources from desperate writers in exchange for vivid but undefined promises of success and glory.
Just as the guild structure was socially conservative--and hence easily superseded when the more progressive market system, flourishing along with the industrial economy, came along--so is the present MFA credentialing system.