I have started the last class of my MFA program. My last graduate writing workshop is three weeks gone. But there is a hitch. There is a reality that doesn’t match.
The pace at which I am learning about the craft of writing fiction is only accelerating. I am nowhere near being a Master. I am only now learning how to write.
I sit down to write each day and each hour I spend with the page leaves behind some aspect, some clearer sense of the craft of making story. I’ll submit my thesis in a year when I sense I should be submitting a request for admission. But this is education’s success, the pointing out to us what we do not know.
So what is the one greatest thing I have learned? It is this. I can recognize bad work.
I can see it. I can see why a piece or passage isn’t working. I can choose the separation of author and reader and look at a draft of my own work and judge it for what it is. I can look at a fellow writer’s work and call it good as well as lacking.
To have obtained the skill – be it in writing, science, business, or sport – to judge good work from bad and confidently discuss one’s judgment is a fine and necessary achievement. It is an achievement that will satisfy the academy and a skill that will serve this practitioner for the rest of his life.