Friday, May 16, 2008

Iowa MFA Grad Speaks Out

I love the LROD commenter "Iowa Grad" who posted over on the Blah, Blah, Blah post (66 comments and going strong; you people are insane).  Minus the MFA, I feel as if Iowa Grad and I are kindred souls.   Here it is, his/her searing response to one of the bitter bobs (not me, though I am bitter):

Hey, angry anon: I have an MFA from Iowa. I earned it in the late '80s, wrote three unpublished novels before publishing my first book eleven years after getting the degree. I also taught as an adjunct at several colleges, sometimes earning a whopping sum of $1,000 per month for teaching four classes, with no health benefits or retirement, etc. It's been twenty years now since I got my degree, and I've published a few books and have a good job, but I still get rejections from little magazines and book publishers alike. That's part of the business, buddy. No one owes you squat. Nobody. Oh yeah...I'm a first-generation college student and accumulated a boat-load of debt for all three of my degrees. Based on your rants (or maybe there's more than one angry anon on here), I should have been handed a sweet book deal and a cushy job upon graduation. I guess I'm failing to see how you and I are different, except that I've worked my ass off to get where I am, and all you seem to be doing is bitching and moaning. I'm exhausted by the anti-MFA rant. I've never -- ever -- had an editor or agent ask me where I went to school, and I quit mentioning it on my cover letter once I realized that, no, it didn't get me anything. Hell, I'll go one step further and say that there's probably more anti-Iowa folks out there than pro-Iowa folks ready to open their doors and hand me a fat check. One more thing: Would I care if you liked my work? If you did, great; but if you didn't, no, not really.


Anonymous said...

Let's see some of your work, Iowa. It's easy to claim things.

Iowa Grad said...

What the fuck am I claiming, a-hole? You're the one -- if you're the angry anon from the "Blah, Blah, Blah" posts -- who claims that everyone who gets an MFA is handed everything on a silver platter and that their work is shit. Meanwhile, you won't reveal who you are or share your work. All I'm claiming -- and it's not a claim: it's a fact -- is that your generalizations don't wash. I provided my own experience (three unpublished books; shitty jobs; not a privleged background) as evidence that contradicts your paranoid theories. I'm not making any claims otherwise. As I said, I don't give a rat's ass what you think of my work. Why would I? But if you want to tell me that I haven't earned it, you can go fuck yourself. I'm sure you're too much of a coward to say it to someone's face. The easiest thing to do -- the easiest justification for your own failures -- is to blame everyone and everything for them. It's entirely possible, my friend, that your work sucks, and THAT'S why you're not published.

Steve said...

I'm with you, Iowa grad.

In angry anon's defense, however, it should be noted that he wasn't bashing MFAs. He's actually said, much to his own chagrin, that he respects some writers who hold the degree.

His real beef is with the publication game, which he sees as 1.)a vast conspiracy against quality writing (which apparently went extinct alongside brontosaurus); and 2.) further evidence of the downturn of American culture at large.

That said, he's still misguided in my book and the major points of your critique are well taken. The conspiracies he offers are proof of some kind of paranoia.

sherwoodanderson said...

In any group of young writers you will inevitably find those who want to write and those who merely want to be writers. They want, it seems, what they think of as a kind of distinction that they believe comes with being a writer. It's an odd thing. I daresay a kind of distinction, always I fear a bit synthetic, does come to a few, but really there are so many writers nowadays. You meet them everywhere. You can't escape them. December 9, 1939

Anonymous said...

Give me a break.

If this is a kindred soul, then obviously we mice who have a problem with the publishing elephants are in the wrong place. Getting cold feet W,R or were you just polite and hospitable to us, yet not one of us? There's more going on than meets the eye. You can't take on the behemoths who own this industry without expecting total war. Some of the mice are not afraid but it's completely understandable if you are.

And first anon seems reasonable to me. Yes, let's see your stuff, Iowa Grad. I'm sure W,R will be thrilled to feature it in Story Hour.

Anonymous said...

"The conspiracies he offers are proof of some kind of paranoia."

Proof? Where?

Also, it doesn't aid your cause to make fun of your adversaries and distort their claims. The 1960's is hardly pre-historic. Unless you mean from the vantage point of today's college grads (i.e. tomorrow's teachers).

Anonymous said...

BTW, is Steve = W,R?

Not happy with the mice who have taken over the blog?

Just ask us to leave nicely, and we will. I think one already left, remember?

Iowa Grad said...

Okay, anonymous. Here's another reason why I wouldn't care what you think of my writing (so you can quit asking to see it). Most of my readers, as best as I can tell, based on emails I receive and people I meet when I promote my books, are high school graduates. Few have gone to college. Most work blue-collar jobs. By and large, they're not readers. And yet, they've been incredibly supportive of me, my books, and my career. Most of my readers are certainly not other MFA'ers or professors or lit. critics. They're certainly not readers of lit. blogs. And you know what? I couldn't be happier. And that's why -- one reason why -- I don't give a shit what you would think of my writing, and why I'm not going to fall for your bait. You've already made up your mind about me, my work, and, I'm sure, my supposed connections, even though I've been forthright. It's obvious in the tone of your posts, not just these here but in the ones you've left on the "Blah, Blah, Blah" posting, that you have disdain for anyone who's publishing today. It's also clear, from the tone of your posts, that you're just a run-of-the-mill asshole. You think I haven't met people like you? Don't fool yourself. I've met you a thousand times before. (I love, for instance, how you compliment Scott Snyder for his civility when you yourself haven't exhibited a drop of it, not once. Not surprisingly, you're a hypocrite to boot.) Look: I've had colleagues like you, talking and talking and talking, even with their heads shoved so far up their own asses. Well, you're deluded, pal. Do us all a favor. Go back into your fruit cellar, why don't you, and lock the door. Can you do that? You don't anger me as much as you bore me.

Writer, Rejected said...

No one on this blog is W,R, except for W,R. Also, I'm kind to any and all rejected writers. I didn't get an MFA, and I realize there are some who have MFA's who got contacts and made in-roads that I'll never find. So, good for them. They worked the system better than I did. Am I bitter that some are luckier than I am, you bet. Does the system suck. Indeed it does. But it is my blog, and I am not you....any of you. But I love you all, and am glad you are here, and I like all of your opinions, even when they do not match mine. So, no probs, as far as I'm concerned. Blast away, at me, especially, but do watch the name calling. That's the only thing I don't like. We can make our points without it.

And surely you can tolerate a little admiration on my part for an Iowa MFA grad who has had as difficult a time as I have. I think many of them have had it much easier. I was merely making a point.

Anonymous said...

Oh, there's nothing halfway
About the Iowa way to treat you,
When we treat you
Which we may not do at all.
There's an Iowa kind of special
Chip-on-the-shoulder attitude.
We've never been without.
That we recall.
We can be cold
As our falling thermometers in December
If you ask about our weather in July.
And we're so by God stubborn
We could stand touchin' noses
For a week at a time
And never see eye-to-eye.
But what the heck, you're welcome,
Join us at the picnic.
You can eat your fill
Of all the food you bring yourself.
You really ought to give Iowa a try.
Provided you are contrary,
We can be cold
As our falling thermometer in December
If you ask about our weather in July.
And we're so by God stubborn
We can stand touchin' noses
For a week at a time
And never see eye-to-eye.
But we'll give you our shirt
And a back to go with it
If your crops should happen to die.
So, what the heck, you're welcome,
Glad to have you with us.
Farmer and Wife:
Even though we may not ever mention it again.
You really ought to give Iowa
Hawkeye Iowa
Dubuque, Des
Moines, Davenport, Marshalltown,
Mason City, Keokuk, Ames,
Clear Lake
Ought to give Iowa a try!

Iowa Grad said...

Sorry for the name-calling. Anonymous tires me, but...point taken. Thanks for the nod, W,R. I appreciate it. But now it's back to work. It's been fun stopping by here the last few days. Keep up the good fight. And good luck with your own work.

Anonymous said...

You are clearly a writer of fiction, Iowa. Everything you say has the air of falsity. If you can't show your work, your claims are mere fiction.

angry-anon hater said...

where's your work, anonymouse?

scott snyder said...

sometimes i like to write down all my connections on slips of paper, toss them on my bed, and roll around in them!

Writer, Rejected said...

LOL! Now, that's the spirit! I'm going to try it myself. Only I'll have to make up some names for my slips of paper, but to the same effect.

Anonymous said...

works with credit card debt, too.

angryanonluvr said...

angry anon: "You can't take on the behemoths who own this industry without expecting total war. Some of the mice are not afraid..."

insert photo of mouse with eye-patch and ammo-belt.