Friday, 9 November 2018

A Rant about My Creative Writing Course


She's getting a little ranty today! So as some of you may know, I am taking creative writing in school and basically I just have one creative writing course that is required for me to take. Oddly enough, despite being the only course that is directly related to my program, it has easily become my least favourite course. The professor is lazy, and just has the most twisted opinions about creative writing that I need to share. So here is my rant:

First things first, when talking about the publishing industry, this man completely tore apart self-publishing. In his own words, he said: "I honestly don't know why anybody would waste their time with self-publishing. Go out, get an agent, and get yourself properly published. Self-publishing is not real publishing." Like news flash dude, not everybody has the time, money, and especially resources to call up HarperCollins and tell them to publish their book. Self-publishing is a great outlet for people who want to get started but who are not already famous with book deals lined up. For you to say that it's not real publishing, is just an insult to aspiring writers.

Secondly, this man is so protective over what he calls "great literature." Basically, we are all expected to become Ernest Hemingway's and James Joyce's in our writing and all of our writing has to serve this grand purpose and be serious and important. He has absolutely no time for YA, and when I wrote a YA piece for my first assignment, he sent it back saying it was too "Hallmark." Now I'm assuming what he meant by this was that it was like the infamous Hallmark movies, meaning light-hearted and without sustenance, but just the way he said it was so unbelievably condescending.

I'd like to put a disclaimer out here and say that I'm not demanding I got a better mark. I have absolutely no problem with people criticising my writing, and if my assignment was shit, he obviously needed to tell me. However by describing it as "Hallmark," which is not even an academic term, is basically an insult to all writing that leans itself to be light-hearted and not as serious as say, James Joyce. I would also like to point out that after saying this, he literally told me, "you should be adopting a tone similar to the great writers of history, like James Joyce and Hemingway."

Writing is very much subjective, just like all media is, and I think that it is so stupid for somebody to judge a piece of writing just because of the genre and subject matter, and not because of the technicality behind it. I don't expect him to love YA, but if he forces us into one category of writing that basically just says that all our writing has to be serious and live up to Hemingway, then where is the freedom in writing? He has not even gone through any lessons with us on how to craft our writing, all he has done is have us read old famous writers and told us: "this is how you should write."

The class is overall very pretentious, and does nothing to help people find what they love to write, rather tells us what we should be writing. And I think this is stupid, because at the end of the day, sometimes people want a light-hearted, funny story, and we should not be judging others for their preferences.

Like I said before, if my writing isn't great, I'd like to be told that. However when grading becomes less of "this is what you did wrong and this is how you can do better," and more of "your writing does not live up to the standards of the classics," then I think we have a huge problem on our hands. At the end of the day, writing is evolving, and people just need to accept that.

13 comments:

  1. I love to write, and you have now terrified me into never taking a writing class.

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    1. Aw I didn’t want to terrify you! I have taken other writing courses in the past that have been great, it’s just this one teacher who is really not for me.

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    2. Oh okay, I'm no longer completely terrified! Does that teacher have any writing experience at all? Because I can understand if someone prefers traditional to selfpublishing, but those reasons he had...sounded more like harsh opinions not based off anything.

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    3. He has been published before, but there’s just something about a successful person telling a bunch of teens with enough things on their plate that their writing is a waste of time if they do not live up to his expectations.

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    4. Yikes, how much longer do you have to be in that class?

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    5. Fortunately, only for a couple more weeks, then the semester ends. I’m just really bummed because it’s the only creative writing based course I’m required to take and it just seemed like a waste of time.

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  2. Oh my goodness this guy sounds so awful! I just can't believe he used 'Hallmark' to describe something he didn't like. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Hallmark movies and books reminiscent of them because who doesn't love some good cotton candy to snack on? And really, underneath everything, there's always something deeper going on and if he can't see that, then he really needs to do some self-educating. I'm so sorry you got this guy for your professor; he sounds truly awful. I'm also taking a creative writing course this semester and the professor is one of the best I've ever had. It just goes to show that, like you said, writing is such a subjective field and teaching it is even more subjective. You can get through this, Emily! Sending all the love and cookies!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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    1. Ugh, I know right?! There is absolutely nothing wrong with Hallmark movies and I will not make my light hearted story more serious just because that’s “what will sell” these days. But I’m glad you’re enjoying your class, Laura!

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  3. OK, firstly: you rant all you want, Em! You have every right.

    Secondly, here are some comebacks you can choose to say or just think really loudly depending on appropriateness (tbh, I recommend the thinking really loudly):

    'Hallmark? Like gold hallmarks? Great, gotcha!'
    'So you think we should get really drunk like Hemingway did to write?'
    'If you know so much... why aren't you a famous writer?'
    'I'm not a dead white dude, so I'm gonna have to adapt a more unique voice.'
    'Those who aren't open to greatness in any genre aren't deserving of finding it.'
    'Literary isn't a genre. It's something that makes pretentious people feel better about themselves.'
    'Dickens was a bestseller.'
    'Shakespeare was the blockbuster of his day.'
    'I feel like people who claim commercial fiction has no value are jealous of the very real cash value it brings in.'
    'Great - can we read something *you've* written?'

    Hope that made you feel better ;) <3 Keep going Em. You wouldn't be an artist if you didn't have to face the haters. <3

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    1. Omg I love these! You are amazing, Cee! I especially love how you said that literary is not a genre. It really isn’t, and yet this man has said that he writes “literary fiction” as opposed to adult fiction a number of times. What is up with that?!

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    2. Pretentiousness. Seriously. ;)

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  4. Oh. my. word. Pretentious much?! Gosh I would lose it with a professor like that. I can't stand that attitude.

    And I totally agree with you. I don't have a problem with constructive criticism and obviously writing is subjective, but when personal bias against a genre etc becomes a big deal, then honestly that person has very little right judging your prose. Ugh!

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    1. Yeah, I know! I was constantly second guessing myself that my feelings were valid because of his status but at the end of the day I just don’t think he’s a good teacher at all.

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