Welcome, Guest: Register On Nairaland / LOGIN! / Trending / Recent / New
Stats: 2,931,873 members, 7,090,357 topics. Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2022 at 02:51 PM

MFA Stories - Nairaland / General - Nairaland

Nairaland Forum / Nairaland / General / MFA Stories (232 Views)

Share Your Frightening But Funny Stories / Name The Sites On Reading Stories On Freebasics And Be Rewarded!!! / Share Your Filling Station Experiences And Stories This Fuel Scarcity Period (2) (3) (4)

(1) (Reply)

MFA Stories by muffleitjuhi(f): 10:11am On Dec 15, 2021
MFA stories

Most of the fiction out there today can be slotted into one of four categories, and in this examination of prominent story types, I’ll discuss what I call “MFA Stories.” The other types of stories are:
Please note that there can be a lot of overlap with these story types. An MFA Story can also be a Bauble Story, for example. But for starters, let's talk about the stories that fall into the MFA Story category. New Pages perfectly captures the description of an MFA Story in their review of stories they read in a new literary magazine. As described by New Pages, the stories in that new magazine were:
“Polished, refined, and serious.”
“Polished,” in Lit Biz terms, means something that is worked over, academic but not organic, with every comma in its place, and where every character has the vocabulary of an MFA grad. And in writing these stories, these MFA Story writers always choose the longest and least well-known words whenever possible—no matter that they frequently don’t understand the actual meaning of those words themselves. It’s like they're the kid trying to show-off in class, and they think that the use of such words makes a story “polished.”
“Refined,” in an MFA Story means: nothing indulgent, lacking in the quality of real life, everyone sitting in a room with the lights off and their clothes on. No outbursts please, emotions must be controlled!
And “Serious” means: humorless, and when there are attempts at humor, there will instead be irony (a Lit Biz person's definition of irony), or archness. They’re aiming for restrained guffaws, these people, not laughter.
Are you at the edge of your seat, craving the next “polished, refined, and serious” story in that magazine? No chance. I know; these stories sound awful because they are awful. But with the huge numbers of MFA programs churning out thousands of MFA grads annually, there are an awful lot of MFA Stories.
- - - - - - - - - -
Also read-dead by daylight wont start


Not only will the MFA Story be worked-over to death (editors would call the workshopped results “controlled”), it will be utterly devoid of any spark of emotion. The MFA Story will be set upon or near a University. Ivy League Universities are disproportionately represented in these stories, but any University will do, particularly if the author attended that University. These stories might feature a dorm room conflict. Or problems completing one's thesis. Often we’ll have an MFA student (or a younger version of the MFA student: the English major) as a central character. If the writer is a little older or has some teaching experience, the main character might be a professor, specifically an English professor, and will be confronted with some kind of scholarly task. Perhaps the professor is denied tenure—the drama! Maybe the author will attempt to go outside the standard “English professor” realm and write about a Biology professor who is tempted to quit her coveted tenured biology professorship to pursue a career in…can you guess? Publishing!
(Ranging outside of the English professor realm is considered very risky ground to the MFA degree-holder. As you and I can see, MFA story writers aren’t actually departing from the established forms at all; in the end, the author brings it right back to their own experiences; these stories are memoirs disguised as fiction.)
Within a single story, all characters will share the same vocabulary skills regardless of their station in life, and they’ll be from the same places the author is from. In other words, the characters are the authors themselves with the same limited life experiences as the authors themselves. Do realize that most authors today are cycled right out of the publishing business within a few years, and many of these authors are approximately the same age, besides. (In 1999, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a survey of recent MFA grads. The survey revealed that only 10% of graduates were actually working in the field of publishing—and most of them were doing some form of technical writing. Most of the remaining 90% were either teaching at the college level, or pursuing yet another advanced degree.) Without any powers of invention, these ex-students are all covering the same ground with their fiction.
With largely the same life experiences and no ability to be creative, is it any wonder that the MFA system cranks out so many MFA Stories with their identical plots and subject matters? The authors have attended secondary school, college, and then gotten an MFA degree—or some variation of that sequence of events—and they are using the lessons they learned in class to write what they know. The MFA Stories that come out of these people are all the same autobiographical stories, talking about the same Ivy League universities, English professors and pastimes. The authors try to assuage their fragile egos by having their characters use the biggest words possible in every situation, regardless of whether it is appropriate for that character to use those big words—and regardless of whether English is even the character’s native language. The writers avoid any content that might stir a reader's soul or ignite their passions and instead, they embrace phrases they're comfortable with, like “made love.” Finally, their characters all blend together as flat, substanceless players who are approximately the same age as the author at the time the story was written.
“Polished, refined and serious” sure doesn’t sound like any fun, but to the Lit Biz crowd who fears the unexpected and can’t handle the most trivial emotional conflict, these MFA Stories are comforting and familiar, with their interchangeable and boring themes and all-the-same boring plots.
Now, I went to college (an Ivy League college, which seems to mean a great deal to the higher-ups in publishing, who are big fans of class structures and keeping out the riff-raff, never mind that anyone who graduates from a community college has far more to be proud of than a typical Ivy League grad). But I certainly don't want to live my life on a college campus—much less spend my free time reading about one. That's not real life to me. Like most people who went to college, after I graduated, I left that University life behind. Once the rest of us got out of college, our degrees became commodities and University life faded into memory. Real life took over, just like it's supposed to. These MFA Story writers continue to focus on a University life with its academic constructs, even after they've graduated with their MFA degree. Why on earth do these MFA writers think that regular people want to read about their adult University-based faux-dramas?
- - - - - - - - - -
In an MFA Story, the language, with its forced high-brow vocabulary, is lacking in emotion. The language might even describe something approaching life, but in the end, the language is empty; life devoid of actual feeling. Dialogue is worded academically (not organically) and the characters stay flat on the page—and they're all indistinguishable from one another, all being versions of the writer. Again, the MFA Story is memoir, written as fiction. An MFA Story is underdeveloped, goes nowhere and you won’t be able to remember anything about that story an hour after you’ve finished reading it because there was no point to it in the first place. Let’s take a look at this New Yorker example below:
Example 1:
“Love Affair With Secondaries” by Craig Raine, The New Yorker, June 1, 2009
It begins:
Piotr was forty-two, married to Basia, the father of three sons, a professor of English at the Instytut Anglistyki at the University of Krakow. Three things worried him.
University, check. Professor, check. But not just any kind of professor, mind you, the most MFA Story-favored kind of professor: a professor of English. A foreign University used as a cheap attempt to introduce “variety and authenticity” within the established MFA Story formula. Raine thinks that setting the story in a foreign locale and giving the characters foreign names is creative, but all he's actually doing is sticking to the same old MFA Story rules.
And a later excerpt from the same story:
One day he expected to read a poem about his eyebrows. Or a poem with his phone number or his address in the title: “Ul. Sienkiewicza 35 m.5.” Especially since his apartment was often the easiest place for the lovers to meet—as they were going to meet on this rainy day in June. He wasn’t teaching that afternoon, because his students had exams. Agnieszka walked from the nearby Film School, where she worked in the cataloguing department. His sons would be in school till four, and Basia, who worked for a foreign press agency, was never home before six o’clock, because of the time difference.
As soon as Agnieszka arrived, Piotr put the chain on the door, and the pair undressed quickly and silently on opposite sides of the sofa bed. Like a married couple in a cold room. But the thick curve of his erection was ready before they even touched. He could smell her genitals across the tartan blanket—the blanket with tell-tail [sic] tassels which she always brought in her tote bag.
This is an MFA Story through and through. Note that Raine has written about an affair between an English professor and a poet, the affair being an all-too-common subject in literary fiction these days. And while an affair can be disruptive and usually dramatic, why is it so often found in today's stories? I'm tired of reading about affairs. Question for the average reader: How many English professors do you know? And how many poets? Do these characters seem like the kind of people you might meet in your everyday life? I'm not saying that every character has to be someone you'd find at the diner on Main Street, but why the vast numbers of professors and poets (often writing their first book) in these MFA Stories? Raine is writing what he knows, and he knows English professors and he knows poets. He, like so many writers these days, is also writing for readers exactly like himself.
We’ve also got a reference to “the lovers” which is not a phrase that anyone in the real world would ever use to describe two people having an affair. And then we come to the part about the “thick curve of his erection” and the fact that the main character, in anticipation of “making love” to his poetess girlfriend, could “smell her genitals.” Look at how laughably unnatural these descriptions are. You could quote this section of the story to your friends and everyone would make fun of the kind of asshole who would actually talk and write this way. The author is trying to conjure up a heavy sex scene, but the language is so clinical, it could have been taken straight from Sex Ed course materials. This is sex that is dead, as a part of a dead story, written by an individual who is so uncomfortable with sex that he cannot bear to see it represented properly on the page. Hell, this guy can’t handle the sex jokes on Seinfeld.

Keep reading-dead by daylight not launching

Re: MFA Stories by Ckechi: 9:15pm On Mar 27
muffleitjuhi:
MFA stories

Most of the fiction out there today can be slotted into one of four categories, and in this examination of prominent story types, I’ll discuss what I call “MFA Stories.” The other types of stories are:
Please note that there can be a lot of overlap with these story types. An MFA Story can also be a Bauble Story, for example. But for starters, let's talk about the stories that fall into the MFA Story category. New Pages perfectly captures the description of an MFA Story in their review of stories they read in a new literary magazine. As described by New Pages, the stories in that new magazine were:
“Polished, refined, and serious.”
“Polished,” in Lit Biz terms, means something that is worked over, academic but not organic, with every comma in its place, and where every character has the vocabulary of an MFA grad. And in writing these stories, these MFA Story writers always choose the longest and least well-known words whenever possible—no matter that they frequently don’t understand the actual meaning of those words themselves. It’s like they're the kid trying to show-off in class, and they think that the use of such words makes a story “polished.”
“Refined,” in an MFA Story means: nothing indulgent, lacking in the quality of real life, everyone sitting in a room with the lights off and their clothes on. No outbursts please, emotions must be controlled!
And “Serious” means: humorless, and when there are attempts at humor, there will instead be irony (a Lit Biz person's definition of irony), or archness. They’re aiming for restrained guffaws, these people, not laughter.
Are you at the edge of your seat, craving the next “polished, refined, and serious” story in that magazine? No chance. I know; these stories sound awful because they are awful. But with the huge numbers of MFA programs churning out thousands of MFA grads annually, there are an awful lot of MFA Stories.
- - - - - - - - - -
Also read-dead by daylight wont start


Not only will the MFA Story be worked-over to death (editors would call the workshopped results “controlled”), it will be utterly devoid of any spark of emotion. The MFA Story will be set upon or near a University. Ivy League Universities are disproportionately represented in these stories, but any University will do, particularly if the author attended that University. These stories might feature a dorm room conflict. Or problems completing one's thesis. Often we’ll have an MFA student (or a younger version of the MFA student: the English major) as a central character. If the writer is a little older or has some teaching experience, the main character might be a professor, specifically an English professor, and will be confronted with some kind of scholarly task. Perhaps the professor is denied tenure—the drama! Maybe the author will attempt to go outside the standard “English professor” realm and write about a Biology professor who is tempted to quit her coveted tenured biology professorship to pursue a career in…can you guess? Publishing!
(Ranging outside of the English professor realm is considered very risky ground to the MFA degree-holder. As you and I can see, MFA story writers aren’t actually departing from the established forms at all; in the end, the author brings it right back to their own experiences; these stories are memoirs disguised as fiction.)
Within a single story, all characters will share the same vocabulary skills regardless of their station in life, and they’ll be from the same places the author is from. In other words, the characters are the authors themselves with the same limited life experiences as the authors themselves. Do realize that most authors today are cycled right out of the publishing business within a few years, and many of these authors are approximately the same age, besides. (In 1999, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a survey of recent MFA grads. The survey revealed that only 10% of graduates were actually working in the field of publishing—and most of them were doing some form of technical writing. Most of the remaining 90% were either teaching at the college level, or pursuing yet another advanced degree.) Without any powers of invention, these ex-students are all covering the same ground with their fiction.
With largely the same life experiences and no ability to be creative, is it any wonder that the MFA system cranks out so many MFA Stories with their identical plots and subject matters? The authors have attended secondary school, college, and then gotten an MFA degree—or some variation of that sequence of events—and they are using the lessons they learned in class to write what they know. The MFA Stories that come out of these people are all the same autobiographical stories, talking about the same Ivy League universities, English professors and pastimes. The authors try to assuage their fragile egos by having their characters use the biggest words possible in every situation, regardless of whether it is appropriate for that character to use those big words—and regardless of whether English is even the character’s native language. The writers avoid any content that might stir a reader's soul or ignite their passions and instead, they embrace phrases they're comfortable with, like “made love.” Finally, their characters all blend together as flat, substanceless players who are approximately the same age as the author at the time the story was written.
“Polished, refined and serious” sure doesn’t sound like any fun, but to the Lit Biz crowd who fears the unexpected and can’t handle the most trivial emotional conflict, these MFA Stories are comforting and familiar, with their interchangeable and boring themes and all-the-same boring plots.
Now, I went to college (an Ivy League college, which seems to mean a great deal to the higher-ups in publishing, who are big fans of class structures and keeping out the riff-raff, never mind that anyone who graduates from a community college has far more to be proud of than a typical Ivy League grad). But I certainly don't want to live my life on a college campus—much less spend my free time reading about one. That's not real life to me. Like most people who went to college, after I graduated, I left that University life behind. Once the rest of us got out of college, our degrees became commodities and University life faded into memory. Real life took over, just like it's supposed to. These MFA Story writers continue to focus on a University life with its academic constructs, even after they've graduated with their MFA degree. Why on earth do these MFA writers think that regular people want to read about their adult University-based faux-dramas?
- - - - - - - - - -
In an MFA Story, the language, with its forced high-brow vocabulary, is lacking in emotion. The language might even describe something approaching life, but in the end, the language is empty; life devoid of actual feeling. Dialogue is worded academically (not organically) and the characters stay flat on the page—and they're all indistinguishable from one another, all being versions of the writer. Again, the MFA Story is memoir, written as fiction. An MFA Story is underdeveloped, goes nowhere and you won’t be able to remember anything about that story an hour after you’ve finished reading it because there was no point to it in the first place. Let’s take a look at this New Yorker example below:
Example 1:
“Love Affair With Secondaries” by Craig Raine, The New Yorker, June 1, 2009
It begins:
Piotr was forty-two, married to Basia, the father of three sons, a professor of English at the Instytut Anglistyki at the University of Krakow. Three things worried him.
University, check. Professor, check. But not just any kind of professor, mind you, the most MFA Story-favored kind of professor: a professor of English. A foreign University used as a cheap attempt to introduce “variety and authenticity” within the established MFA Story formula. Raine thinks that setting the story in a foreign locale and giving the characters foreign names is creative, but all he's actually doing is sticking to the same old MFA Story rules.
And a later excerpt from the same story:
One day he expected to read a poem about his eyebrows. Or a poem with his phone number or his address in the title: “Ul. Sienkiewicza 35 m.5.” Especially since his apartment was often the easiest place for the lovers to meet—as they were going to meet on this rainy day in June. He wasn’t teaching that afternoon, because his students had exams. Agnieszka walked from the nearby Film School, where she worked in the cataloguing department. His sons would be in school till four, and Basia, who worked for a foreign press agency, was never home before six o’clock, because of the time difference.
As soon as Agnieszka arrived, Piotr put the chain on the door, and the pair undressed quickly and silently on opposite sides of the sofa bed. Like a married couple in a cold room. But the thick curve of his erection was ready before they even touched. He could smell her genitals across the tartan blanket—the blanket with tell-tail [sic] tassels which she always brought in her tote bag.
This is an MFA Story through and through. Note that Raine has written about an affair between an English professor and a poet, the affair being an all-too-common subject in literary fiction these days. And while an affair can be disruptive and usually dramatic, why is it so often found in today's stories? I'm tired of reading about affairs. Question for the average reader: How many English professors do you know? And how many poets? Do these characters seem like the kind of people you might meet in your everyday life? I'm not saying that every character has to be someone you'd find at the diner on Main Street, but why the vast numbers of professors and poets (often writing their first book) in these MFA Stories? Raine is writing what he knows, and he knows English professors and he knows poets. He, like so many writers these days, is also writing for readers exactly like himself.
We’ve also got a reference to “the lovers” which is not a phrase that anyone in the real world would ever use to describe two people having an affair. And then we come to the part about the “thick curve of his erection” and the fact that the main character, in anticipation of “making love” to his poetess girlfriend, could “smell her genitals.” Look at how laughably unnatural these descriptions are. You could quote this section of the story to your friends and everyone would make fun of the kind of asshole who would actually talk and write this way. The author is trying to conjure up a heavy sex scene, but the language is so clinical, it could have been taken straight from Sex Ed course materials. This is sex that is dead, as a part of a dead story, written by an individual who is so uncomfortable with sex that he cannot bear to see it represented properly on the page. Hell, this guy can’t handle the sex jokes on Seinfeld.

Keep reading-dead by daylight not launching





AMAZON KINDLE PUBLISHING

Have you written a book? Do you want to have global reach? Putting your book on Amazon Kindle enables you to sell globally- that means earning in all currencies!

You don't need to have a hardcopy of your book to start making money from it.

That's what we do. Interested? Send a message on Whatsapp at 08099645931

We also help with editing, and Book Cover creation. Only a dm away

(1) (Reply)

1.5 HP Hisense Inverter AC (air Condition) For Urgent Sale / This Is Why The US And NATO Cannot Interfere In The RUS/UKR Crisis / No Evidence Abba Kyari Laundered Money - AGF Malami

(Go Up)

Sections: politics (1) business autos (1) jobs (1) career education (1) romance computers phones travel sports fashion health
religion celebs tv-movies music-radio literature webmasters programming techmarket

Links: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)

Nairaland - Copyright © 2005 - 2022 Oluwaseun Osewa. All rights reserved. See How To Advertise. 213
Disclaimer: Every Nairaland member is solely responsible for anything that he/she posts or uploads on Nairaland.