These are a couple of quotes I found on Facebook: two different people talking about MFA snobbery.
“This happened to me at Hachette – a marketing manager heard I’d been published and was curious where I got my MFA. I said I didn’t have one, she smirked and said, ‘So you’re not a real writer actually. Got it.’ I almost fucking killed her on the spot.”
“Had such a strange moment at AWP book fair. A journal editor asked me and my friend if we were MFA students and when we said no, she said, ‘Aw, you’re just writing for the love of it,’ in a clearly condescending tone.”
And this is me:
Snarl. I also do not have an MFA. The guy who led the original MFA program in the US — Iowa — sold the program to rich donors as a way to fight Communism. The rules they used to teach — I don’t know about the current programs — “write what you know” and “show, don’t tell,” are hell on SFF, and they also locked you into white, middle class, mid 20th century, American society. (The chances that you would be in an MFA program if you were a person of color or poor were not great.) (I personally believe that the focus on the psychological problems of the middle class was a way to kill kinds of fiction that talked about class and race and hope for the future.) Bullshit. I’ll take rocket ships and elven warriors every time.
One of the problems with realistic fiction is it often tells me nothing I do not already know. I grew up in a middle class American household. I know what it’s like. Why would I want to read about that life? On the other hand, this is new:
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe... Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-Beams glitter in the dark Near the Tannhäuser Gates. All those moments will be lost in time, Like tears in rain. Time... to die...
I know that contemporary mainstream fiction is often not realistic. But SFF has a longer track record and more practice with unreality… I also realize that my hostility to ‘literary’ fiction shows my age. It dates from my childhood, when SFF was not respected or popular.