The MFA debate


Arguments over the value of a creative writing MFA have long been an Internet staple, perhaps in part because creative writing programs have, paradoxically, been one of the few growth areas in college and university arts departments in recent years. The latest broadside, by Ryan Boudinot, has attracted quite a lot of attention, and backlash. Laura Miller offers one of the more thoughtful responses in Salon. Despite its polemical tone, however, Boudinot’s piece doesn’t seem that controversial. His conclusions would probably not surprise many MFA students. You can get better at the craft of writing by working at it, but natural talent helps a lot too. Being a great reader helps one to become a better writer. The chances are that very few writers will ever “make it,” either in terms of sales or critical acclaim.

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