Thursday, 17 September 2015

Are Creative Writing Courses Worth It?

Ryan Boudinot gives an insider’s view.

Ryan Boudinot’s essay on creative writing courses provided readers with a warts and all insider’s view of his life a teacher on a Master of Fine Arts creative writing program, and it has created a Twitter storm all of its own, with hate mail, threats and demands for the essay to be withdrawn.

He credits a handful of students as having produced life-changing work, and reflected that the majority of students were hardworking and dedicated, but felt they had nothing interesting to say and no interesting way to say it! 

The statements that caused the most contention include:
·         “Writers are born with talent”.
“Some people have more talent than others. That's not to say that someone with minimal talent can't work her ass off and maximize it and write something great, or that a writer born with great talent can't squander it. It's simply that writers are not all born equal.”
·         “If you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it.
There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one. But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one's 30s or 40s is probably too late”.
·         “If you aren't a serious reader, don't expect anyone to read what you write.
Without exception, my best students were the ones who read the hardest books I could assign and asked for more”.
·         No one cares about your problems unless you are utterly brilliant.
“I worked with a number of students writing memoirs. One of my Real Deal students wrote a memoir that actually made me cry. He was a rare exception. For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy”.
Responses to the essay have been like those to marmite, people either loved it or truly hated it. Many of those who have attended his classes felt betrayed, Twitter has been flooded with responses, good and bad, and blogs have been set up to collate all negative comments and campaign for the article to be withdrawn. 

Follow the link to read the article yourself, and make up your own mind…

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