“The Nervous Writer” by Steven Flores (MAPH ’10) in Contrary


A guest post by Jeff McMahon, MAPH Writing Advisor (MAPH ‘ 02)

S.W. (Steven) Flores (MAPH ’10) has a story in the current issue of Contrary that satirizes creative writing workshops at their less than optimum. Flores is a second-year MFA student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.nervous writer

His story is in no way reflective of the UW-Madison MFA, he says, which he “loves to death!”, or of workshops at Chicago, but the story may be influenced by some other workshops he’s experienced.

“And, really, it’s just fiction.”

Oh, but is fiction ever just fiction?

Here’s how “The Nervous Writer” begins:

The writers all sat round the table, sipping slowly from their beers, like wolves to baited blood. The nervous writer was due any minute and with luck he would suffer a complete breakdown. But before he arrived, the talk went round the table, a cat’s cradle of conspiracy and gaze. The topic du jour was a famous writer known for his staggering intellect who’d killed himself just two months prior. His books—all maximalist masterpieces—had become too prolix for the modern publisher and they feared he would fail to sell. True, Chris had called his last novel “overstuffed,” and Urban said, “My God, did he ever hear of an editor?”—a sentiment was met with unanimous approval. One particularly clever workshopper said that the famous writer’s editor must have been the anti-Gordon Lish. But still, one thing could be agreed upon: the famous writer could be called a genius, now that he was dead….

The Nervous WriterRead the rest at Contrary.


Steven’s story “The Pain of Becoming” in the Iowa Review has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his fingers are continuously crossed. He is currently at work on a novel.




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