Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Writing Classes

Writing classes are amazing things.  I have learned so much about myself and my writing in the past six weeks.  It has been an invaluable experience, and I am beyond grateful to my instructor.

That being said, I've registered to take Beginning Welsh next semester, and not the next writing class.

Why? my husband asked me.  And when he did, I didn't have an answer.  So I've been reflecting on it, and while I'm not sure I've settled on a great answer, I have a couple mediocre ones.

First, the requirement for these classes--ones designed by MFA students or faculty who teach MFA students--is to write literary fiction.  I don't write literary fiction, and I don't feel like I've done too well at it so far.  I also really like the complications of dragons or witches or extraterrestrials, or the comfort of a cozy mystery.  I'm not the kind of person who has theses on life all lined up in my back pocket ready to be fictionalized.  Not all literary fiction is that, I know, but I feel a great deal of pressure to write something profound that's going to change the world, but I'm not a world-changing kind of gal.

Second, you have to apply to get into the next class.  This scares the toe-socks right off my overly elongated toes.  Seriously, you have to write a cover letter and send in your best short fiction piece.  My short fiction has mainly been limited to this class, and it's not that great.  Would this be a great way to prep myself for the rejection of agent queries?  Maybe, but in my mind it's not the same.  The prof/MFA student teaching the course may have the office across the hall from me (I haven't researched it yet, but it is possible since we share our hallway with the English department), and I might have the reminder daily that I didn't get in.  They can't tell me no unless I apply, of course, but that brings me back to #1.

Honestly, I keep asking myself if I want to push myself toward literary fiction when that's not my forte, even if I'm learning valuable things about craft and style and structure, and I keep not having a good answer.  So, as of right now, I've taken the wuss-way out.  I'll take more writing classes in the future, of course, but for right now I think I'm gonna take a break and try to mold and tweak the skills I've gained from this course.  There's never an end to the learning, but sometimes you need to just step back and take Welsh.


Summer Ross said...

You do whats best for you for right now. If you aren't ready- then by all means wait until you are. But at the same time, you will never know what you are capable of until you try. Good luck!

Jules said...

I say as long as we are learning, we aren't dead. You follow your heart and the rest will fall in place. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

M.J. Nicholls said...

Is this a Welsh language class? Wow. I'm amazed they even exist.

Have you read postmodern writers like Calvino, Sorrentino or Bathelme? This style might be more up your alley. See also constraint-based writers like Perec and Queneau.

isia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
isia said...

God, that one was by mistake

I just wanted to say that we should not let ourselves be slaved by patterns, esp. the "if you started you have to continue" rule.

yeah... now I'll go and try to apply that to my life ;)

Rory said...

I think you've made a great choice for where you are right now, friend! And I think it's awesomely self-aware to not push yourself into literary fiction. Pshaw!

Carol Riggs said...

You go, girl. It's your life!

Anonymous said...

I agree, sometimes you just need to learn a little Welsh! Should be interesting!

And if you're not sure you want to do the writing course, I can see being reluctant to face possible rejection. It's never fun :( Especially if they're across the hall...and least agents you can delete the rejection and pretend it never happened :p

Hart Johnson said...

Rosie-I think I would probably look at it exactly like you do. At one point I thought maybe that was my thing, but really, the more I read KNOWING the distinction, the more I think... not so much. I love the fast pace and smart alect characters i work with. It seems the vast majority of literary fiction requires a ton of research (often is Historical) and just doesn't match my 'eh, close enough' personality.

That isn't to say I don't want my other stuff as good as possible, but I think if I DESIGNED it to have a certain pretense from the start, it would stop me up and I'd lose my voice... and I'm getting to LIKE my voice!

RosieC said...

Summer, I hear you on the "I'll never know" bit. I know I'll take more classes, but I think right now I need a break.

Jules, thanks. I won't stop learning, I promise! :)

M.J., it's technically an independent study with fewer than 5 students. Should be pretty awesome. Thanks for the author suggestions, too. I'll have to check them out.

isia, good point about patterns. I'm definitely a slave to the routine, but try to break it daily. :) Maybe breaking the pattern is my pattern? Or is that too post-modern?

Rory, thanks! As one of the wise women in my life, I appreciate your support :)

Carol, thanks! Ditto my comment to Rory! :)

Erica, I'll certainly be letting you guys know how it goes with Welsh :) Yeah, I think the delete button was the greatest invention created for writers!

Hart, I knew you'd understand! :) I like my voice, too, when it comes to other things, and my voice isn't as strong when I force it into the literary mold. *sigh*

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