From the “I Wish I’d Written This” Department:

Margo Rabb’s “How to Tell a Story.”

Even though it’s not possible that Margo and I were in the same MFA program, this story feels so true to my experience (right down to the sentiment/sentimentality lecture) that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that she was sitting right next to me all that time.

I discovered the story years ago, just before my third year in the program. I thought it was so dead on that I sent copies to classmates with the subject line, “OMG! Is she talking about us?!” In the years since, it has served as a reminder that I’m not the only person who had an F’ed up MFA experience. There are plenty more of us out there, and God Bless us all for surviving it.

2 thoughts on “From the “I Wish I’d Written This” Department:

  1. What a great find! I had similar experiences in a creative writing program at my local university. I was married, and I remember wondering at the time whether it was a requirement for writing students to have affairs with each other, regardless of marital status. What a distraction, and then the workshops! I could have used a bracer before a few of those. While most of the workshops provided good, constructive advice, the negative feedback is what always seems to lingered long after the semester was over. If I had to measure myself by the faculty at that time and my classmates, then I probably wouldn’t be writing now.


  2. @1writeway: Oh, yes. MFA programs are incestuous places. I think some of my classmates were looking to increase the amount of drama in their lives and so . . . affairs galore! It was amusing when the relationships would turn up as fiction pieces in the next workshop.


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