Introduction, Chad Harbach
The best way to approach this book is as a kind of jointly written novel—one whose composite hero is the fiction writer circa 2014. Her voyage is a long one, and she has her frailties: her concentration is fragile, she wakes up too late and checks her email too often, she drinks too much coffee in the morning and too much wine at night. But she is always working, working, working, trying both to pay her rent and to put the way the world feels into words.
MFA vs NYC, Chad Harbach
The university now rivals, if it hasn’t surpassed, New York as the economic center of the literary fiction world. Everyone knows this. But what’s remarked rarely if at all is the way this balance has created, in effect, two literary cultures.
A Mini-Manifesto, George Saunders
As in all things, we have to look at particulars. If someone says, “Creative writing programs are bad,” I think we’d want to ask: “Which one?” And: “When?”
The Pyramid Scheme, Eric Bennett
The Iowa Workshop, then, attained national eminence by capitalizing on the fears and hopes of the cold war. And the creative writing programs founded in Iowa’s image did not, in this respect, resemble it. No other program would be celebrated on the glossy pages of Look and Life.
The Fictional Future, David Foster Wallace
In order to remain both helpful and sane, the professional writer/teacher has got to develop, consciously or not, an aesthetic doctrine, a static set of principles about how a “good” story works. Otherwise he’d have to start from intuitive scratch with each student piece he reads, and that way the liquor cabinet lies.
My Parade, Alexander Chee
Fame seemed like a terrible, even a stupid thing to want, but it also could protect you from vanishing forever, especially if you were a gay writer, already disadvantaged when it came to publication, much less posterity.
How to Be Popular, Melissa Flashman
The praise was not enough to cut through the fizz and champagne that characterized the late stages of an asset bubble. No one wanted to hear bad news—or at least they didn’t want to use their second mortgages to pay twenty-four dollars for it in hardcover.
Into the Woods, Emily Gould
It’s hard to write about being broke because brokeness is so relative; “broke” people run the gamut from the trust-funded jerks whose books you buy because she’s “so broke right now” to the people who sleep outside the bar where she’s whining. But by summer 2012 I was broke, and in debt, and it was no one’s fault but mine.
The Disappointment Business, Jim Rutman
There’s love-love: the elusive, transfixing devotion you feel for your favorite books, regardless of when they were written or by whom. But love-love is so rare that work-love necessarily comes into play, and work-love is a slippery, contingent thing.
People Wear Khakis, Lorin Stein with Astri von Arbin Ahlander
She introduced herself as the mistress of a writer whose book I had just read. And I had never met somebody who introduced themselves as somebody’s mistress before, so I was perfectly happy to go stand in a corner with this nice middle-aged German lady.
Nine Lives, Jynne Martin
I’ve experimented with a variety of ways to get media and booksellers excited about the writers I work with. I’ve snatched up an auction lot of vintage Vegas postcards on eBay, had moonshine smuggled up from North Carolina, and bulk-ordered boxes of flapper-era black wigs. “Etsy that shit out” is gospel among my current team.
Money (2006), Keith Gessen
Poor publisher—last week he became so discombobulated by the “realities of the publishing industry” that he paid $400,000 for the first novel of a blogger. “He’ll be promoting the book on his blog!” the publisher tells his writer over seared ahi tuna. “Which, you see, is read by other bloggers!”
Money (2014), Keith Gessen
These were the times we were living in. I was on a college campus. I was a visiting professor. And I was sitting in my office, bearded and wise-looking, and, in all seriousness, discussing orcs.
Seduce the Whole World, Carla Blumenkranz
The best instructors learn to cultivate and deflect the interest of their students, and the most attentive students are able to play along, to everyone’s satisfaction. Both teachers and students create the possibility of seduction in the workshop, as a way of heightening its potential, but most often an understanding is maintained that nothing may happen between them.
Application, Diana Wagman
In retrospect, I can see we were all frightened. Not just me, not just the students, but the entire faculty. I’ve admitted I thought teaching there would help my writing career. Some better-known author would write “luminous” in a jacket blurb for me. But everybody wanted the same thing and so everyone got petty and snide.
The Invisible Vocation, Elif Batuman
The novelistic hero is by definition someone whose life experience hasn’t yet been fully described, possibly because of his race or class, but more broadly because he didn’t exist before, and neither did the technology for describing him. The latest novel is immediately absorbed into the field of pre-existing literature, and becomes the thing the next novel has to be written against.
Dirty Little Secret, Fredric Jameson
What initially looked like a “culture of narcissism” now unexpectedly begins to generate new social formations and a new kind of non-introspective literature to express them.
Reality Publishing, Darryl Lorenzo Wellington
You could argue that writers’ magazines provide a substitute education for thousands of dreamers without access to writing classes or MFA programs. What you see on the magazine racks, however, is a glut of hard-sell techniques. What you see says publishing is all about Winners and Losers.
A Partial List of the Books I’ve Written, Eli S. Evans
Then I wrote a very bad novel, about 500 pages long, called Dreaming of Heidegger, that I don’t even want to talk about.