Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Creative Writing Course?

Oh shit! (Sorry for the expletive.) However could I have missed the news on Raman's website that he is going to be running writing workshops (Write with the Right Side of Your Brain) for teens and adults in June.

I guess he's changed his mind about the fact most creative writing courses are hocus. Ooooooh I forgot, the difference is in that word "creative". You can do all the same kinds of things, but you must call them "right brain" activities.

Right brain = creative? Left brain = logical reasoning? This, though, is the pseudoscience of the 1960's. As psychologist Brad Fowell of Vanderbilt University puts it:
In the scientific community, the popular idea that creativity exists in the right side of the brain is thought to be ridiculous, because you need both hemispheres of your brain to make novel associations and to perform other creative tasks.
Of course, his course will not be like the one I'm running. He makes this clear in his blurb:
This is not a 'rudimentary course' for 'beginners'. This is for those serious about their writing. This programme is designed to make real writers out of you. It is not one of those 'creative writing course' where no writing happens after the course.
Well there you are! Success guaranteed! How can I compete? I certainly haven't had anyone from my courses create the Malaysian War and Peace. Yet.

But I hope I've given my participants enough of a starting point from which their writing can develop, and more importantly, the confidence in their own voice.

Had the final session with MPH Tuesday night group this week. (Quite emotional, because this was everyone's opportunity to present their written work, and each person had crafted a piece which had personal significance for them.) And am still running the course in conjunction with the British Council on Thursday nights.

Will run the beginners course (Getting Started) again in June and plan new courses for September as well as a creative reading course.

Meanwhile am trying to find other venues for my course ... does anyone know a space that has the right kind of touchy-feely vibes (preferably that I can use for a daytime course), yet is no too expensive?


Anonymous said...

Why get so worked up? He's a rude man who doesn't value his friends and seeks to undermine anyone else doing anything useful in writing or promoting books! Most people saw through him long ago.

Anonymous said...

try it's in hartamas shopping centre. the people are nice.

lemme think... hey malaysiakini has a training upstairs. not glam but we can do wonders. how?

bibliobibuli said...

malaysiakini is for sure on my list - but daytimes how?

cloudbreak i still must visit - but they have a policy of strictly no desks which would make it hard for me to do my course there

wonder if cloudbreak are going to be running this course for raman? i don't think he'd dare run it on his own as he has no teaching qualifications or experience

Chet said...

How about the one I told you about before - Hoxes in Damansara Perdana? It's a book store and cafe.

Glenda Larke said...

I was published without ever going through a creative writing course, or even doing the other common thing, which is to seek out beta readers to give crits before submission. And my first book couldn't have been too bad because it was shortlisted for a yearly national prize.

Is that the route, though, that I would advise for anyone else? No, I don't think so. It took me years (prior to publication) to learn the tricks that I could have learned in a single well-conducted writing course.

You know the old adage: "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Yet it is often thought that having a writer teach a creative writing course is A Good Thing.

I would dispute that. Good teachers of writing and good writers are two different things, not necessarily overlapping ... which brings me to the other very salient point. Attending a course doesn't make you a great writer. All it does is give you the right tools. The rest is up to the writer's creativity, determination, eye for a good turn of phrase, persistence, use of words and atmosphere, ability to build believable characters, etc etc.

Having the right hammer and nails and a knowledge of theory of carpentry might build the chair, but it doesn't make a beautiful piece of furniture. That comes from within. But having a good teacher sure helps.

Greenbottle said...

oh shit sharon! you floored me.i don't expect that exclamation from you and i love this kind of belligerent posting from you. another funny coincidence. my may 3rd nonsensical posting in my blog was also about 'creative writing workshops' too ...

bibliobibuli said...

chet - yes let's go suss it

glenda - thanks a lot for this - what you say is very true and the most important variable is the will to work hard and to learn from reading and through trial and error

of course not everyone needs classes or a teacher

i found it hard at the beginning to get started tho' i'd kept journals for years ... I did a very expensive correspondence course which I found didn't help much ... but my turning point came when i discovered some excellent books with exercises that got the writing flowing ... and online writing groups where i could share my writing ... which gave me the confidence to send my writing out

hoped my course would provide an easy way in for beginning writers ...

greenbottle - hey, coincidence - you and me both writing about creative writing courses

so you like it when i lose my rag a bit? haha

poor mr. raman riles me up like no-one else can

Anonymous said...


you can use the third floor during the day. we're having a 3 week journo course now so june- july onwards are good months. room pongs a bit but we can always blizt it with lysol :)

if you're game, meet up? at bodega for kunzru's reading ya? talk there.

now to sleep!

bibliobibuli said...


yeah lah i may take you up on this ... i like the room

the kunzru readings are at kino and the curve ... the other thing is a meeting and invite only ... but yeah see you there

Ron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ron said...

One of the reasons (and there are quite a few!) that I don't like American fiction these days is probably due to the increasing number of 'Creative Writing' courses run by universities.

Sausage machines produce sausages and they all taste the same!

Unfortunately Australia is going down this path too.

Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, chill out. You're a born teacherlah. Maybe one day you can write a book called Teacher Woman.

bibliobibuli said...

ron - agree with you about the homogenisation of much american fiction writing, tho' as i've said before some of the best UK writing at the moment seems to be coming from grads of creative writing courses such as UEA, where there is more emphasis on workshopping writing rather than giving students a one-size fits all template for success

(i archived everything on this topic here and i guess it has been one of the ongoing themes of this blog)

bibliobibuli said...

lydia - chill out, huh? yeah, i suppose so but you know, it does hurt a lot that someone you considered at one point a friend stabs you in the back and so publicly - which is what it all boils down to, or at least i feel it that way ... and this is the second piece of unpleasantness on his website in a couple of weeks (and at the same time he keeps asking for articles - for free - for his "litmag")

gosh, i'm not chilling out at all, am i?

he wanted me to run writing workshops through silverfish at one point (for free of course!) - so i guess he doesn't have such a low opinion of my abilities to organise workshops

thanks re. the teacher woman bit - i actually do love teaching and get serious withdrawal symptoms when i haven't done it for a while

Anonymous said...

I second Lydia's suggestion. Go 'Teacher Woman'!

Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, that's what blogs are for : Venting!!! But I do feel for you. Yes, it may hurt deeply now but when some time has passed, you may well go, "Ah... Apasal nak peduli pasal dia?"

Jane Sunshine said...

I took a creative writing paper in uni and that term was when I had been the most creative in my life. I haven't quite been able to find the tempo since. I think creative writing courses not only give budding writers tools but also, a kind of atmosphere that nurtures all those creative juices. I'm all for these courses.

Anonymous said...

sharon, have never been to any creative writing course but it sounds like fun. let us know of your june classes. and - is your course similar to that run by ninetyfive percent?

Chet said...

I've been a part of online writing groups for a few years as well as participated in Sharon's creative writing class. I find them very stimulating because you're among other writers and it helps to talk about your writing - the actual progress, your feelings about it, etc. It has been said writing is a very lonely profession, but both online writing groups and actual classes and workshops do help to take some of the loneliness away (altho they shouldn't be done too often as you might then end up socialising too much, which takes away from the writing).

bibliobibuli said...

aneeta - thanks

lydia - very probably! ;-D

jane sunshine - i actually think that the muse works best in groups - some really magical thiongs happens when a whole group writes together, and the contact with each other is one of thee most valuable elements of the course.

anonymous (who i think is a different anonymous from the usual anonymous?) yes, i will - tho' already have several names on the list

how is my course different to what 95% offers ... i need a whole entry to talk about that ... watch this space

chet - yes, exactly right

Anonymous said...

sharon, I'll watch out for that. I'm the same anonymous who commented on the Kavyaa entry, and a new reader of your blog. :-)

Poppadumdum said...

What is the story between you and this Silverfish guy anyway? (Sorry, I've been out of the country for the past 5 years so all this is news to me...)

Anonymous said...

Well. Raman is the type of person who sells what others give him for free. Not only that, he actually _asks_ people to give him stuff for free so he can sell it. I wish I'd thought of that. Have to admire him, hubris would be too tame a word for it. :)