The article, in which Boudinot skewers the majority of students who enter MFA programs - and more specifically his own students - drew not only 211 irate comments, but a counter article from one of his students pithily entitled "I Was the MFA Student Who Made Ryan Boudinot Cry: A Response to the Insensitive, Shit-Stirring Rant That Made a Lot of People—Including Me—So Mad."
Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One
By Ryan Boudinot, The Stranger, 2/27/15
I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.
Writers are born with talent.
Either you have a propensity for creative expression or you don't. Some people have more talent than others. That's not to say that someone with minimal talent can't work her ass off and maximize it and write something great, or that a writer born with great talent can't squander it. It's simply that writers are not all born equal. The MFA student who is the Real Deal is exceedingly rare, and nothing excites a faculty adviser more than discovering one. I can count my Real Deal students on one hand, with fingers to spare.
If you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it.
There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one. But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one's 30s or 40s is probably too late. Being a writer means developing a lifelong intimacy with language. You have to be crazy about books as a kid to establish the neural architecture required to write one.