Wednesday, June 8, 2011

lost in the past

The New York Times had an article Tuesday: Tradition Trumps Twitter at Iowa Writers' Workshop. Apparently, things function much as they did in the past over there in Iowa City. One of the recent grads interviewed said he'll hand-write the first drafts of his stories or even use a typewriter. Like most of his classmates, he does not own an e-reader and prefers paper books. He says he was scolded by a tradition-minded instructor when he turned in his first workshop story for writing about a character that used Google. [He]...does not use Twitter. No technology: Check.

Eric Simonoff, co-head of the book department at the WME talent agency says Iowa's administration has long been conflicted toward the publishing industry, trying to give students access without taking their focus away from learning their craft.
"And I think that's right," he said. "It's useful to know that at one point one will have to market oneself, but I don't think the time to do that is when you are in an MFA program."
Ignore the entire concept of selling: Check.

I must admit, though, I enjoyed the sentiment of another grad who says of fiction it's such a slow-burning, heavy-attention medium that really demands someone who is mentally present and not just giving you superficial attention. I really love that aspect of it... I want to convince people that, in this world of beeps and tweets, spending meditative time with an analog paper book is a worthy pursuit. I want to write so well that I can convince others of that."

So, what do you think? Are the Iowa Writer's Workshop folks hopelessly, helplessly lost in the past? Or, is it working for them?

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