Jan 23, 2005, 5:53 PM
Post #10 of 13
MattElz -- I'm very interested in your questions so thought I'd respond. In my on campus MFA program most students were working on short stories -- not that they weren't capable of writing novels or didn't want to, but I do think that writing a lot of short stories is great training for writing a novel (at least that's my experience, having written quite a few stories and now tackling a novel), though there are writers that I admire greatly who never wrote novels (or not many) and their work inspires more than a lot of novels I've read (Munro, KA Porter, Carver, Chekhov, etc.). So writing great short stories is a very admirable and difficult thing to do unto itself. If nothing else, once you've written a lot of stories and start on a novel, you see pretty clearly the difference (in other words, a novel isn't just a really long short story -- well, in some ways it is, but let's not get into that for now!), and what it takes to write a novel. I think that a low res format would work extremely well for a student working on a novel -- there's lots of time for getting careful, thoughtful feedback, unlike a residential program where you're meeting once a week, and in each class there's a certain amount of work the teacher needs to get through. My sense was, in my res program, the novelists who started out with novels were a little bit frustrated by that, and you really do need one or two people who are going to read the whole thing from beginning to end and know the thread.
As for teaching/writing -- I'm also a full-time writer/writing teacher. It's a challenge to keep time for yourself, I've found, though you can't beat the month-long break in between semesters, and summers -- that's when I got most if not all of my own work done.
Hope this sheds some light...