An MFA for the Rest of Us

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A black and white photo of people sitting with graduation caps on.

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Needless to say, we will all dress like this

I’m in that small and shrinking group of writers who don’t have MFAs. Which I think makes me uniquely qualified to start my own MFA program. Haven’t most education reformers come from outside the system? My program will, for starters, involve napping and swimming pools. And the course offerings will be much more practical than “Problems in Modern Fiction.” We’ll cover the things you need to know. (The writing part you can figure out on your own.) I herewith present my 2015-2016 course catalog.

CW 4001 Meditation Strategies for Computer Crashes

CW 4102 Introduction to Despair

CW 4109 Self-Delusion

CW 4219 Envy Studies

CW 4270 Breathy Poet Voice: Introduction

CW 4280 Breathy Poet Voice (Advanced): Profound Pauses

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Terry is totally listening

CW 4300 Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car

CW 4450 Explaining This Thing to your Parents

CW 4490 Blurbing Like You Mean It

CW 4491 Blurbing Like You Don’t Mean It

CW 4500 AWP: Hangover Cures

CW 4510 AWP: Avoiding Your Ex at the Book Fair

CW 4520 AWP: Humiliation Recovery

CW 4612 Ego Checking for Beginners

CW 4700 How Tall Are Those Famous Writers, Really? A Comparative Study

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I’m assuming they’ll let us just move in here…

CW 4720 Hydration Strategies for Revision

CW 4735 Pretending You’ve Read Murakami

CW 4890 Pretending You’ve Read Your Colleague’s New Poetry Collection

CW 4900 Drinking After Rejection: Strategies and Justifications

CW 4901 Drinking After Rejection (Advanced): Drink Recipes

CW 4902 Drinking After Poor Reviews: Pacing and Detox

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For advanced 5001 students only

CW 5001 Useful Back Stretches

CW 5005 Useful Wrist Stretches

CW 5007 You’re Just Going to Have a Flat Butt Now, Sorry

CW 5100 Vacuuming as Procrastination

CW 5200 What if Your In-Laws Read Your Sex Scenes?

CW 5210 Outlining Your Novel in the Back Row of Faculty Orientation

CW 5341 Dress for Readings: the Art of Rumpled Chic

CW 5620 Taking Photos of Your Cat Messing with Your Manuscript and Posting Them to Social Media

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Oh, man! What is that cat gonna type?! Is he gonna edit for you? Who’s a good cat?

CW 5621 Posting Photos of Your Child Holding Your New Book and Looking Cute

CW 5622 Advanced Photo Posting: Dog with Chin on Stack of Books

CW 5700 53 People Not to Sleep with at Bread Loaf: An Overview

CW 5800 Being All Hoity About Having a Stand-Up Desk

CW 5900 Name-Dropping for Fun and Social Advancement

CW 6100 The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace

CW 6110 Flirty Author Photo Grimace 2 (Advanced): Norwegians with Cigarettes

CW 6200 Self-Loathing

CW 6300 Draft-Burning

CW 6330 Explaining Your Life at High School Reunions

CW 6340 Smiling Pleasantly When People Ask If You’ve Sold Movie Rights

CW 6400 Schmoozing

CW 6401 Schmoozing Without Spilling Wine (Advanced)

CW 6500 Writer Haircuts: Don’ts and Don’ts

CW 6600 A Brief History of Self-Flagellation

CW 7100 Awkward Favor-Begging

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Just don’t do it. Just do not.

CW 7110 Awkward Conversations with Booksellers

CW 7200 Not Being a Time Hog at Readings

CW 7220 Not Being a Time Hog on Panels

CW 7400 Jubilation

CW 7415 Desperation

CW 7500 Pulitzer Fantasies


Congratulations! You are now qualified to make up stories that aren’t true!

CW 7516 Angst (General)

CW 7519 Angst (Specific)

CW 7520 Angst (Deadline-Related)

CW 8100 Nervous Breakdowns (Independent Study Only)

CW 9100 MFA Thesis (and/or Life Reevaluation)


We will be accepting both applications and bribes through January.