The sixth novel in my selection of 100 novels is Windfall by James Magnuson. I picked this novel up last week after hearing Magnuson, director of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, speak about the pros and cons of creative writing programs.
I enjoyed Magnuson’s talk a great deal, because I’ve been interested in returning to school to get an MFA. He dissolved some of the myths I’d believed about getting into such a program: An MFA doesn’t ensure a teaching job afterward (something I would like to do–teach creative writing); it doesn’t ensure publication or necessarily powerful contacts in the publishing/writing world.
But I believe it could improve writing. My writing at least. Magnuson talked about how good writing teachers can help a writer do things like see holes in his fiction, how to approach it and make a fix of it.
I did feel encouraged by the talk. Last year I applied and was rejected by the writing program at Texas State University-San Marcos (aka Southwest Texas State University). I was hurt by this rejection. Not only was I turned down by my alma mater, but I began to think of myself as an untalented hack. I took the rejection personally.
But Magnuson noted this stat: This year there are five slots open at the Michener Center; there are more than 500 applicants to the program. He said not to take rejection personally. Writing and rejection go hand in hand.
He also told an anecdote about a reading he went to. When the reading was over he went up to the writer to tell her how much he enjoyed the reading and how moving her writing was. She said, "But you rejected me."
So, I’ll keep trying. I may also look into low residency programs and into short workshops as well.
Anyhow, here is an Austin Chronicle piece on Magnuson and Windfall.