Feb 16, 2011, 2:14 PM
Interesting that the recommender thinks agents want to hawk "great writing". If I were an agent, I'd be interested in finding writers of stuff that I can convince publishers would sell. I might want to talk to MFA students because they'd been pre-screened to be serious about their writing -- no hobbyists in that crowd! -- but would I want to meet the most literarily-adventurous, envelope-pushing student? Big no.
Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs
Great writing does not translate into ready marketability. Matter of fact, genera/popular writing sells much, much more readily than literary fiction. Basic good writing skills help sales numbers but the general American reading public is not very interested in reading literary-type works, which is what MFA programs have traditionally stressed. That stuff is too challenging, and weird, for Joe- and Jane-Blow reader. Sad, but oh so true.
It's the same for graduate music composition programs. The vast majority of concert music patrons do not appreciate contemporary works, with their experiments in atonality and bizarre time signatures and use of instruments. Just the lay of the industry's land.
So your recommender is right: If what you really want to get out of an MFA program is publication, then you should search out an MFA program designed towards that end. Touting of the agents attending their residencies would be a good part of that plan. Some programs recently began offering genera, or popular, fiction MFAs through their programs. Or you could research your favorite authors, find out whether or not they teach, and pursue admission into those programs.
P.S. Gi -- I'm wondering what you like to read. Recently read titles? You can PM them to me if you want.
(This post was edited by maybemd on Feb 16, 2011, 2:20 PM)