My therapist thinks I should be a creative writing major so I can go for my PhD and teach college since I’m already going for an English with middle education degree. Not only do I refuse to sank myself into debt, but I’ve never felt the need to do a creative writing degree because I’m a self-taught writer. Yeah, there’s the whole thing of being able to have groups in class and the teacher looking at it, but so what? That’s what my writer’s group is for. Beta readers. My freelance editor was practically my teacher. I had books on writing. I analyzed the fiction novels I read. Plus, I have tried other forms of writing, and I am a novelist through and through. I would hate to take a class on screenplay writing knowing I don’t like writing screenplays.
I took one class in creative writing and hated it. It was mostly the professor that drove me mad. He was not very effective at critiquing, especially poetry. His most common criticism? “This is a stone,” meaning I can turn it over and do something more with it. But he never specified how. I wasn’t even impressed with his critiques on my short stories. In fact, I never agreed with them, and this was the time when I had my freelance editor critiquing my novel. His criticism was just so shoddy compared to hers.
He isn’t the reason I didn’t pursue one though. Part of it is there isn’t much you can do with a creative writing degree, unless you want to go to grad school and teach. Another reason is that they teach you nothing on the business of writing. At least my university doesn’t. Even with indie or independent presses, you need to have some knowledge of the business, and many of the students I spoke with knew next to nothing. No idea how to do a query letter, synopsis, none of it. They only knew how to write, and even then there was some debate because critiques in class can be very shoddy since you don’t get to choose who you critique. Most don’t care to critique well either. How can I develop from that? I prefer to choose who critiques my stuff, and they are in the form of beta readers or an editor or something.
But mostly, I just don’t think I need to waste my time taking a creative writing class when I’ve effectively self-taught for years and learned from those already published. I have more control over who I critique and over who critiques me. And since I have a choice, criticism is often going to be a bit stronger–even though no one can compare to the freelance editor I learned from. At least, not now.
Perhaps there are creative writing programs out there that are great, but where I’m at, no thanks. I don’t know if I want to do teaching anymore, but I’ll give my apprenticeship a chance, and I’ll let the future surprise me.