There’s this crazy myth about fiction writing – especially literary, snobby fiction writing – that goes something like the mfa system produces or promotes mediocrity and the book reviewers are just writing blurb cover copy for whatever is fashionable and the great writers of today that we think are great are just the few sad sacks of verbage to get pumped to life by the system of book promotion and the truly great writers go unrecognized and don’t get the grants and plumb teaching gigs because of the system of churning out mfa students etc., etc., etc.
It’s all crap. Fictionists pursue an mfa to get better at writing fiction or to buy themselves time to write fiction. No writer I know thinks much or cares about grants or plumb teaching posts or even awards unless we know we are up for one. Really the only thing we care about is fiction. Any person assessing the publishing industry attributing anything to the system beyond a love of books and great books and fun books and niche books and all the love we all have for books is really missing the point of the whole thing. Every part of the system of publishing, from creation to promotion to teaching gigs classrooms and grants stems from love. The system does not operate for any other reason and it works pretty darn good at finding good things and connecting good things with people who will love them.
And writers, if you ever find yourselfbon a list of fifteen overrated writers somewhere online, for instance at the huffington post, pat yourself on the back. If you’re pissing off people, you’re doing it right.