Odds and Ends: Impossible Dreams

Posted on 11 January 2013

Some links for your weekend:

First, an amusing Chronicle of Higher Education post from by an anonymous English faculty member who describes his response to a certain type of student who seeks an MFA (and his letter of recommendation): “Some people develop an irrational desire to buy a vehicle they can’t afford. They have Car Fever. Other people feel driven to connect with stunningly inappropriate partners. They’ve contracted Relationship Fever. Still others become convinced that their lives will be worthwhile if, and only if, they pursue graduate work in creative writing. Those poor souls suffer from M.F.A. Fever.”

Next, a story about a nonexistent “poet” who stole other poets’ previously published poems and published them far and wide in lit mags. The plagiarism itself — even considering the huge amount of effort, time, and expense he must have taken to submit all those poems to many, many literary journals — doesn’t necessarily shock me, but the subsequent apologies and money orders just make this story bizarre. As the plagiarist says, “In a perfect world, an artist like you — a creator of beauty — should never have to come in contact with such an ugliness as me.”

Finally, here’s a lovely post detailing how for one writer, the dream of becoming an author was to dream the impossible: “I remember how I flung myself on my bed in my basement bedroom, and in a rage I thought of my dream—to be a published author one day—and this determination grew inside me. The dream felt so impossible, you have to understand. I didn’t know anyone in my life who grew up to be what their secret dreams said they could be. Every adult I’d known had sacrificed and turned responsible and got a job to take care of their family. Real people—people I knew, people from families like mine—we didn’t do outlandish things like become published authors.”

Happy Friday. Here’s hoping for the impossible.

Photo: String Anomaly


4 responses to Odds and Ends: Impossible Dreams

  • Sarah W says:

    Thanks for sharing these, Laura.

    I’m past the age of MFA fever, probably, but there’s some great advice in there. And I guess I’ll be checking my poetry files for Mr. Sumner.

    But I think my favorite is that last article:

    “Instead of reaching for outside markers of success—dreams that rely on other people and the industry to make come true—I am trying to reach only with my own two arms.

    In my writing. Which is what I can control.”

    There’s my impossible dream, right there.

  • MSB says:

    Oooh, I’m coming back here through the weekend to check all of these out. The last quote is magnificent. Makes me think of that Adele song, “There’s a fire, burning in my heart…”

    Plagiarism is a heavy topic. I think when someone gets to that point they have entered the gates of darkness. There are no more options for them. This seems like the only out. What they don’t remember is that plagiarists are always found out. If not by someone else, certainly by their own conscience.

    How’s the writing? I know I’ve said it before but your “Clarinet” is one of my most favorite stories ever. Have you ever thought of turning any of the shorts into longer pieces?

  • Averil says:

    The MFA article cracked me up. The academic culture is so far removed from anything I have experienced—everyone I grew up with was trying to get the hell OUT of school!

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