Skip To Content
  • lol badge

30 Awkward Moments From Your Creative Writing MFA

"We met at AWP. Can I email you my short stories?"

1. You, trying not to creep out your favorite professors.

2. You, trying to "cut loose" on weekends.

3. You, "eating dinner."

4. Trying to chase down funding opportunities around the department.

5. Applying to Breadloaf, MacDowell, Stegner, Yaddo, and other A-list artist residencies.

6. Going from teaching comp to bored undergrads to totally hoity workshop critiques.

7. When people say, "I don't read contemporary literature because you MFA writers just churn out mediocre bores."

8. What it feels like getting workshopped for the first time.

9. When some lazy asshole in your year nabs the only full-ride scholarship.

10. When you're that lazy asshole.

11. These workshop comments:

12. The gist of every workshop critique:

13. When a colleague starts crying mid-critique.

14. When someone writes about a another colleague — in a sex scene. An emotional one.

15. When a classmate writes something unreflexively sexist/racist and says it's art. And then later says it's satire.

16. When every poem being critiqued has a nautical theme, or wounded fauna, or some other weird coincidence.

17. When a satirical genius is somehow very lenient toward your work.

18. That one weird time you're asked to do in-class writing exercises.

19. Every discussion about Franzen or Tao Lin.

20. When colleagues reference some micro-offshoot of the Oulipo writers that you've never heard of.

21. At a reading, when someone goes way over their allotted time.

22. Trying to hide that the only reason you came to the reading in the first place was the snacks/free wine.

23. What it feels like reading anything you were proud of writing a month ago.

24. When feted, laureled, Pulitzer-anointed visiting authors tell you that publication's not important, and you should write as if no one's reading.

25. When fiction/nonfiction writers complain about their agents in front of poets.

26. When a colleague gets published by The New Yorker or snatches a Wylie agent or book deal and your entire department melts down in a jealous rage.

27. When you submit to one of a billion Glimmertrain contests and get this note back half a year later.

28. When yet another person writes a handwringing pro-/anti-MFA thinkpiece.

29. These job opportunities on your MFA's career email list:

30. When you realize you're supposed to be writing right now and you've just read an entire BuzzFeed post instead. YOU. YES YOU. GET BACK TO WORK.