Reminders while I’m up at Skidmore

from a Rick Moody interview of 2010

RM: I have taught on and off for a long time (since 1991). Rarely full time. That is, I have never made my income primarily from teaching. I have always survived mainly from writing. I would like to try to continue to do the same. When I have taught a lot, I have often become a little burnt out from it. Partly because I do try to give and to be available to the students in a way that I felt I often was NOT when I was a writing student. My grad school experience, especially, was not great, and I am powerfully motivated to try to expunge the miserly teaching of my professors from that time. But more importantly I have a theory that the workshop is not a great methodology for the instruction in creative writing, and, as a result, I have tried to come up with some alternative solutions. One of the solutions is this: I work with people individually. The application procedure is rigorous. I have to have time and I have to really like your work and you have to have at least a year, and you have to be willing to rewrite endlessly. Because I will work on one story for four or five months, doing ten or twelve drafts, until I think I have it somewhere where you are making progress/learning. Mainly, I do this for thesis students. Right now I have two students, one of whom is about to graduate. I think this amounts to a really good teaching ratio. One to two. By the way, the students pay what they can pay. When I can’t do this, the tutorial model, I very occasionally will teach a workshop in revision. I have sketched out some precepts for revision (there are thirteen rules, according to me), and so when I do a workshop now (as I have done annually at Skidmore College in the summer since 2005 or so) I primarily try to work on the subject of revision. I don’t care if you have a novel excerpt, I don’t care if you want to get an agent or are trying to market a book. I am going to attempt to teach you how to make a better paragraph. And that is where we will meet. I don’t know how fatherhood will affect this yet. My teaching. I still am committed to getting one student through her thesis and one other on an open-ended basis. And I am teaching this summer up north again. For two weeks in July. I will do these things as I have done in the past, as though it is possible to believe in teaching.


from Night Train Magazine

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