RARA-AVIS: Re:MFA programs and all that

From: Seth Harwood (sethharw@sethharwood.com)
Date: 09 Mar 2009

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    Hey Jack,

    Yes, I've been reading this brew-ha-ha about MFA programs with some interest. Though I wasn't writing genre while I was at Iowa, there have been a number of us to pass through those hallowed doors and turn to a life in crime fiction.

    While I was there, I saw just about anything you could imagine in workshop. And for admissions, Frank Conroy and a team of "chosen" students read *in* all of the many applications that came to the Dey House. Someone was reading the actual writing of everybody who came along wanting to join, and I think it was the quality of the writing, the skills or chops, if you will, that determined if he or she got in, not whether you wanted to make any money or not. When I was there it seemed a pretty obvious reality that we were hiding out or ducking
    "the real world" to hole up in an isolated place and work on our fiction for as long as the funding would allow. I got much better as a writer there because of or in spite of the program. Basically it was an escape I used to hone the craft. I'm glad I did it, though it was a rough two years there for a buncha reasons that I won't get into.

    One thing's for sure: it consistently made clear to us there that none of us should hope to make any money (whether we weren't supposed to try is a different matter, I think). At graduation Frank Conroy, the great long-term head of the program gave me and my peers two things: a certificate with our name on it... and a blank unemployment form for Johnson Country, Iowa.


    But glad I went!


    Seth Harwood author of the JACK WAKES UP Coming May 5, 2009 from Three Rivers Press

    Join the nation at sethharwood.com, become a Palms Daddy/Momma!

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