The Real Deal
By now every writer and her sister and her sister’s cat has commented on this, but I must add to the responses to Ryan Boudinot’s “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One.”
This particular sentence caught my eye:
The MFA student who is the Real Deal is exceedingly rare, and nothing excites a faculty adviser more than discovering one.
1. Either Boudinot can read the minds of every faculty adviser in every MFA program in the U.S. or he’s speaking for himself. Obviously, he’s speaking for himself, or at best for himself and a handful of others who’ve shared their thoughts with him on this subject.
2. Boudinot (and perhaps a small contingent of instructors who agree with him) has the inside scoop on what the “Real Deal” is. If you don’t meet his criteria, sorry, you can’t be the Real Deal (this is a tautology, and useless — how anybody after Nietzsche, not to mention Derrida, can be this comfortable with absolutes is beyond me).
3. If somehow you become the “Real Deal” one year or five or ten after finishing your MFA, then, sorry, you’re not the Real Deal. Because…
4. Not only must you be the Real Deal according to Boudinot’s very own criteria, but you must do so on his timeline. Otherwise, you’re not the Real Deal (again, a useless tautology).
Have fun reading:
Ryan Boudinot, I presume?
In a sense, I do agree with Boudinot in that we instructors live for those students who show great promise RIGHT NOW according to OUR biases and limitations. But we must also temper our egos and admit that not every student is doing great work we get RIGHT NOW. Of course, they may go on to do great work we’ll get LATER (pass the crystal ball). And promise is just that — only time and hard work will tell (again, pass the crystal ball).
Could some students (just one?) be doing great work WE don’t get now but may get later as we grow as readers? Unless of course we have 100% knowledge right now and nothing left to learn …
Or could some students (just one?) be doing or going on to do great work WE will NEVER get?
But per Boudinot, we’re off the hook: a student is or isn’t the Real Deal per our criteria, right now.
Ego me absolvo.
That’s pig Latin, btw.