As the end of the year draws near, it is time now for Pints to look back on the year that was. I just completed my first semester of an MFA program. An MFA program has been a dream for a while, but did it live up to expectations? Yes and no.
It’s great to be around other writers. That’s something that will always be true. But, I didn’t really have any writing intensive courses. I wrote about 8 short stories and several dozen poems, but didn’t get to experience any sort of workshop arena for these pieces. The people who read these works, were the people who I always trust as readers and who would have read them—regardless of whether I was in an MFA program or not. Next semester I’m taking more workshop-based classes and so I think I will end up being quite pleased.
What I have discovered this semester is how much I enjoy teaching. It’s a new way of thinking out problems. I love finding new approaches to engage students in the material. The days when students actually seemed to be thoroughly engaged in activities were wonderful. Hearing several students admit (begrudgingly) that now they kind-of-sort-of-do-now-like-writing was even better.
Which brings me to a sore point. I heard (several times and from varying sources) that MFA students should be writers first and teachers second. This is something which is irritating me to no end. The thought is that one shouldn’t give teaching their all because it might make your writing suffer?? Like, um, what? This idea is infuriating on so many levels. Not the least of which is that the students we’re teaching are in college to be, oh I don’t know, TAUGHT. More importantly, a disengaged teacher who just gives out “B’s” to pass students along so that they don’t have to actually help students is doing a huge disservice to not only their students but also to themselves. Teaching can be frustrating. It can be. But, so is writing. And there is joy to be found in teaching well, in engaging with your work, and in finding new solutions to problems that you face in the classroom. In fact, any and all of these things will probably help make you a better writer in the long run. Writing isn’t (and shouldn’t) be about taking the easy path.
Now after that wee rant (apologies, dear readers) a few end of year things pleasing the blog-writing cupcake maker.
1.) Winter break will be the Time of the Cookie. I plan on baking cookies, cookies, cookies (plus other delicious things).
2.) It will also be the Time of the Book. I have a huge stack of books to read which I’ve gotten behind on during grad school. There are biographies of stage magicians, Icelandic mysteries, food histories, short story collections, and Japanese folktales. It’s going to be a happy reading spree.
3.) I am a good way into my novel writing revisions. This just might get done eventually, people.
4.) Throughout the last year I’ve had writings featured at some lovely places. Here now is a round-up of that
Check out my story “People You May Know” in Luna Station Quarterly:
Check out my story “You Told Me to Write You a Way Out” in Cease, Cows:
Check out my story “Who Walks Beside You” in Issue 25 of Supernatural Tales: http://suptales.blogspot.com/2013/10/25-and-not-out.html
I also have some work forthcoming from some lovely places such as Sleet, The Menacing Hedge, and more, so keep a look out.
On that note I say peace, good tidings, have a lovely rest of 2013, and may 2014 be a good year!