Myung-Ok Lee, Marie “My Own Path to Publication: Choosing to Forgo the MFA” (Poets & Writers September/October 2015)

Over the years I’ve learned that my writing goes through a very, very long stage during which its bad–embarrassingly bad. So I spend hours chipping away, and seemingly spinning in place. It’s almost as if I have to fail in every way imaginable until there’s only the “right” way left. That takes time. It can’t be done in a half an hour during a workshop, where comments tend to be, as I experienced them, superficial. “We need more backstory.” “I think you should do this in dialogue, in third person, in the free-indirect style, as a pathetic fallacy.” This always seemed like addressing problems that were fixable by turning off your computer and writing stuff over the words you already have–and this resulted for me, as I saw in my undergraduate workshop, in a tepid piece that was as boring to ready as it was to write.

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