Auriane Desombre is a YA writer currently pursuing an MA in English Literature from NYU and an MFA in Creative Writing for Children & Young Adults from The New School.
She holds a BA in English Literature from NYU, and has shared her passion for books through her experience working as an 8th-grade Writing teacher.
Her future aspirations include organizing open mic nights for kids, narrating audiobooks, learning to scuba-dive, and traveling the world with a baby on her back.
Jillian Fraker is a native of Nantucket Massachusetts, who, after several years of living in Seattle, Wash., has returned to the east coast to concentrate on writing.
You might get the impression from the essay, and from the book as a whole, that people write fiction either to get a good teaching gig or to be toasted forevermore at New York parties, while commanding big advances. But it seems to me that the only thing that would make it an career choice would be spending one’s writing life trying to appeal to a dim, shifting notion of what either the academic or publishing marketplace wants.
(Though even a good advance runs out pretty quickly, as detailed in the book by both Keith Gessen and Emily Gould.) If this were the case, as Elif Batuman writes in her essay about “program fiction,” this system would “not generate good books, except by accident.”Luckily, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Good luck guessing right: the wind will have shifted half a dozen times in the course of writing a book.When she is not found writing or performing, Cynthia enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and wandering museums. She is a former litigation lawyer who now teaches Kundalini yoga and has a small farm of Alpacas, donkeys, goats and sheep in Upstate NY.She is a second-year fiction student in MFA program at the New School and is at work on her first novel. Ralph is a literary artist concentrating in Writing for Children and Young Adults at The New School, where she is crafting a tropical novella on the mysteries of nature, faith, and human memory.”When he does end up teaching a writing class (because, you know, ), he finds it less morally compromising than he expected.He likes his students, and finds that he can usually be honest with them.When he can’t, he takes part in the time-honored tradition of complaining about it with a faculty colleague.Sure, preparing for class is hard when you have literary and journalistic obligations, and yes, his students are paying an absurd amount of money to gain an intangible set of skills. As for the question of “MFA vs NYC”: both, probably?“Students don’t take French or history classes because they want to become French or history professors; they take them because they want to learn about French and history,” he writes.Writing students, however, inevitably want to become writers.) The New York writer, on the other hand, without the safety net of academia, feels an obligation to publish novels, and submits “to an unconscious yet powerful pressure toward readability.” (Anyone who’s tried to get through the big novels of a given publishing season might say, “Not powerful enough.”)In his introduction, Harbach writes that much of the mail he received after the publication of the original “MFA vs NYC” essay was from people who found the essay “extremely depressing.” He suggests that this is because he depicts the fiction writer “as a person constrained by circumstance—a person who needs money, and whose milieu influences the way she lives, reads, thinks, and writes.” On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a reason to hit the whiskey—yes, writers are people, and people need money.I think what makes the essay depressing is Harbach’s assumption that anyone interested in writing fiction is operating with such narrow motivations.