Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Should Have Gotten An MFA

Poor little Iowa Workshop boy got some rejections and put his novel in the drawer before receiving the Pulitzer.  Hello?! A nice highlight from the Times article:
The early rejection “was funny at the time,” Mr. Harding said. “And even funnier now.” Mr. Harding, a onetime drummer for a rock band, is far too discreet to name any of the agents or editors who wouldn’t touch his work a few years ago.
Oh, seriously, don't listen to me; I'm a jealous douche. I don't even like myself today.  Good for you, Paul Harding.  Good for you.

14 comments:

David said...

Yes, good for Harding, another rocker-turned-writer a la Wells Tower. Not to sound like an ass, but am I the only one who's sick of the boring, simplistic and unimaginative writing that comes out of Iowa? Can they please be stopped already from taking over the Earth?

SJDuvall said...

Ugh...but good for him. Still ugh for me, though.

Anonymous said...

That picture you chose for today's post somehow makes it all better. Love it.

While the articles irritated me -- there seems to be a sense of him having deserved all the big stuff, like a NYT review, NPR recognition, etc., and that rejection shouldn't apply to him -- it is nice to see that a supposedly "quiet" and beautifully written book managed to go from small press to Pulitzer. That is nice, and does give me a little bit of hope. I will read his book and see if it lives up to this hype.

On the bitter side, note that before he was a student at Iowa, he took a workshop with Marilynne Robinson. Hmmm I'm sure that had nothing to do with him then getting into Iowa, right? I mean, that's fine if she saw that his writing was fabulous. I get it. But it just feels like yet another clue that nameless, non-Robinson-workshop-attending, non-MFA people like me are at a disadvantage. I work really really hard, and have for years, writing around my day job -- but sometimes I wonder if I'm going to have to suck it up and get an MFA or spend tons of money on expensive writing conferences to actually get anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you were going to post on this. The Pulitzers are sort of old news now...

To anon 9:16, if you are talented and you want to be a non-self-published author, your two choices are basically (1) get MFA and get really lucky, or (2) get really really really lucky. With or without a degree, there is still a lot of luck involved.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I am aware that getting an MFA, even from a top school, is no guarantee of success. It's certainly not a free ticket. Imagine how many Iowa and Michigan and Columbia graduates are floating around right now hoping and trying and getting squashed. Just that I feel sometimes, without the baseline of an MFA, I am even more screwed. Ah well.

chudly said...

You can attend One Story's "Should I get an Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree?" conference. For $25 application fee, you can attend a 6-day workshop that costs $1100, not include lodging in NYC.

Call me sane, but if I was thinking about enrolling in a MFA program, I would just save my $1125 to pay for grad school application fees.

Kelly Luce said...

if you think workshops or conferences will help you but don't want to do an mfa (i hear you), why not go for conference scholarships? assuming you're writing good stuff, you can get a foot in the door that way.

gnusmas said...

What a small and ugly post, LROD. Good for Paul Harding.

Writer, Rejected said...

Yes, yes....I'm an ass. Agreed.

Anonymous said...

I like how you establish rules and then, in one fell swoop, pretty much break all of them.

Writer, Rejected said...

Yeah...I'm classy that way. I'm slapping my knuckles the way I sometimes slap yours. I deserve it.

gnus en masse said...

get off your high pony. come talk to my camel. i rode a wildebeest to iowa just to see paul harding eat a lobster baby.

J.D. Roa said...

I'm just really happy that all those editors and other people who launched his publishing career were moved solely by his writing enough to actually mobilize. When I read a query, I always get this sad image of the writer floating on a plank out at sea without any land in sight.

Anonymous said...

This book actually sounds pretty good. I'm hoping it will break a string of Pulitzer disappointments for me. Oscar Wao was maybe the most overrated book I've ever read. Tinkers sounds a little like The Hours, which may be the last great Pulitzer-winning book I've read.