Creative Writing On Change

As a senior in high school I decided to become an orthopedic surgeon.

For the most part, life went according to the plan.

What if this is just something that’s been imagined into existence, by both detractors and supporters alike, to satisfy a collective need to believe that institutions can improve anything, even creativity?

Or conversely, that institutions ruin everything, especially creativity?

NYC,” “the university now rivals, if it hasn’t surpassed, New York as the economic center of the literary fiction world.” If there are indeed “two literary cultures” in Harbach’s words, we should be able to detect it.

We began by looking at writers’ diction: whether the words used by MFA writers are noticeably different than those of their non-MFA counterparts.Using a variety of tools from the field of computational text analysis, we studied how similar authors were across a range of literary aspects, including diction, style, theme, setting, and even how writers use characters.novel, what makes, say, Junot Diaz sound like Junot Diaz, is of course mostly immeasurable.What if this debate, furious as it is, is just a distraction from more important questions surrounding creative writing, like problems of diversity within publishing or financial exploitation on the part of universities?We’re two professors of language and literature who regularly use computation to test common assumptions about culture.But there’s an underlying assumption that the MFA But what if there’s no change to speak of?Is it really possible to tell the difference between novels that have been through the meat-grinder of the MFA and those that haven’t?The debate has shifted from whether creativity could be taught to how well it can be taught and whether it be taught.The stakes are real: Creative writing has become a big business—it’s estimated that it currently contributes more than 0 million a year in revenue to universities in the U. Today’s debate falls along predictable fault-lines: One side eyes the teaching of writing suspiciously, and concludes that MFA programs may produce some good fiction, but they don’t produce enough “great literature.” The other side defends the institution by saying, if nothing else, that programs give aspiring writers the time to “dedicate oneself” to the craft of writing.The last time I wrote anything was my freshman year in college for a history class. Fourteen years later, I finally put pen to paper again, and it changed my life. I was headed to medical school, a life dedicated to science.


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