Monday, November 09, 2009

Well, Dickens Didn't Do an MA in Creative Writing ...

Are writers born or do they emerge after a year of being 'workshopped' on a creative writing course? There is evidence either way Dickens didn't sit through an MA in the fens, yet the starry alumni graduating from Iowa's Writers' Worshop and the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing MA hint at the fact that writing fiction is not a given birthright, but a learned art.
Arifa Akbar in The Independent looks at the question of whether authors just need solitutde and to get on with it, or whether a formal course in creative writing actually helps. It is a debate that has come up several times before on this blog - and, as we have seen, there are one size fits all answers.

5 comments:

GeneGirl said...

One I still grapple with it! It is intriguing and I suppose given the myriad of writers, they come from all over, don't they...

Zed Adam said...

I've been doing that solitude thing and self-learning all this while. But in the future, I'd really like to go to such a course to improve my writing as most of the time, I still feel very much inadequate and have a lot more to learn.

:)

B said...

Dickens didn't make all that much money either. Neither did Lewis Caroll or J.M Barrie.

It helps in a sense, in that it helps you write the modern novel, you know the bloodless, formulaic, overly long and dry kind that pretty much every novel is these days. It helps you create and market a product and make a living by it. It doesn't necessarily help you write a better novel.

Preets said...

How is it that people who have never actually attended an MA program feel qualified to expound upon it? Do you find me pontificating on the worth of graduate degree in Astrophysics or Marine Biology? I wonder what it is about writing that everyone feels they're an expert.

B, having attended an MA program and talked at great length to people who attended others, I can tell you that the LAST THING they want to teach people to do is to "create and market a product and make a living by it." These very words would make them shudder. Why do you think most of their graduates, and most of the teachers themselves, make their living teaching? I don't know how many times I have to keep repeating this and why I even bother, when it's clear that most people who make these silly judgements don't even read contemporary fiction.

bibliobibuli said...

B - nice to have your Anonymous self back winding up Preets. i really missed you!

But Preets, i'm afraid, is right.