Ron MacLean teaches writing at GrubStreet. He is the author of the 2019 story collection We Might as Well Light Something on Fire. His short fiction has been anthologized, and has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, Fiction International, Night Train, Other Voices, Drunken Boat, Best Online Fiction 2010, and elsewhere. His previous books are Headlong, winner of the 2014 Indie Book Award for Best Mystery, and finalist for Best Novel; the novel Blue Winnetka Skies and the story collection Why the Long Face? Ron has received fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Millay Colony, and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and has been a frequent writer-in-residence at The Chautauqua Institution's Summer Writers Workshop. He is a recipient of the Frederick Exley Award for Short Fiction and has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes. He holds a Doctor of Arts from the University at Albany, SUNY. See his work at www.ronmaclean.net.
Ron MacLean's Philosophy
We asked Ron to tell us a little bit about his teaching philosophy and what excites him about leading the Short Story Incubator Program:
While there’s a ton of focus in writing programs on getting a story to the point that no one in workshop has any major objections to it, rarely does a course focus on refining a story until it is an outstanding, and finished, piece of craft. The gap between “workshop good” and fine, finished craft IS traversable. I’ve been piloting concrete ways to address it for the past five years, and am wildly excited to bring those strategies to this program, and to cultivate still more through working with writers in this program.
The short story is a living and evolving art form that every writer both honors and reinvents in order to provide their particular window on human experience. It’s the writer who must be allowed to determine form, content, and angle of their approach – with their particular cultural, social, familial backgrounds – and our job as reader/colleagues to help them realize that vision. NOT to conform them to some pre-determined or unconsciously enforced standard.
Jeanette Winterson has said that “the calling of the artist, in any medium, is to make it new.” Yes. Our stories should reflect our experience of being alive in the time and place we find ourselves. To write a great short story requires both tremendous risk and tremendous focus.
As writers, we all have confident days, and we all have days where we despair of ever having a viable thought. We are better when we remind each other of this, and provide each other solace and support, thoughtful critique, and encouragement as we work hard together and delight in creating and refining this, our craft.
Want to learn more about MacLean's teaching philosophy? Check out the podcast below for details.