There has to be hard work in writing, but I think MFA programs can train writers to sharpen a story like a pencil until all that’s left is the point. Polish is important, but not if it strips away what’s underneath. Writing comes out of necessity and the instrument doesn’t matter as much as the story, like a murder victim scrawling a final message in blood. Use what you’ve got to get your message across. I think it’s possible to kill a story with craft. I’d rather let it live through a difficult birth and a disappointing childhood.
I don’t want to think of writers as scientists in lab coats, removed from the real world studying carefully dissected entrails. I think of writers as paramedics performing CPR in the midst of an accident scene, trying to resuscitate. It’s hard work, physically and mentally draining, not always successful, but not killing work.