Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Yesterday I sat in a class on creative writing. It has been ages since I was creative, although many years ago, when I lived in Amherst, I attended Jane Yolen's critique group and another, less famous one in which I even presented my own piece.

I have always been slightly skeptical toward creative writing as an academic subject since I cannot see how it can be judged by the same criteria, but it has been done all over the world, and you can get your PhD in creative writing nowadays. You can even be a professor or chair of creative writing.

(Can writing be uncreative? I'd like to take a course in uncreative writing. Presumably, academic writing is uncreative. I'd say that 95% of published children's books are uncreative.)

The class I went to yesterday was on writing chapter books. From my uncreative academic point of view, chapter books is an unnecessary concept, but I know it's useful for marketing. And it was fascinating to listen to students critiquing each other's chapters paying attention to the implied audience. Can you use the word "stipulation" if you are employing a first-person child narrator? I am used to analyse published work, but the questions are the same: does the voice sound right? Is it consistent? Is the setting explicit? Is characterisation effective? It's just that I do it from outside rather than inside.

At least one text was really stunning.

The class brings back memories of a short time when I was at crossroads. I had published my first novel for children and was encouraged to submit another. There were no academic positions in sight. I was seriously considering quitting academia and embarking on full-time writing, creative or not. Where would I have been now?


Ingrid Knutsson said...

Jag vill du skall veta att jag med intresse fortsätter att läsa din blogg!
Hälsningar Ingrid

Canzonett said...

I'm not sure inhowfar "Creative Writing" as an autonomous subject makes sense. But teaching students how to write properly (writing in general, scholarly writing in particular, rhetorics and so on) can't be quite wrong ...

Ulla PE said...

Jag måste berätta för dig nåt som min Julia sade häromdagen: när hon som 8-9-åring läste "Nedräkningen" fick hon en aha-upplevelse. Hon hade aldrig tänkt på att man kan berätta en historia utan att berätta personens namn. Och hon tänkte länge på vad det kunde innebära för själva historien.