Yes, I took a class yesterday: "Introduction to the Short Story" at the Indianapolis Writer's Center. It was exhausting! Three hours, including a couple of writing-and-reading-aloud exercises. No critiqueing, just read your piece and listen to the other three students and hear how they took a different approach to the than material you -- or didn't.
The instructor was very good, a writer (with a day job) with both an MFA and real-world experience and the discernment to see and share the value (and limitations)* of both. Very heavy emphasis on craft, which may surprise people who don't have much contact with the creative arts. Sure, there are plenty of posers out there, but where it counts, you'll find a whole lot of artisanship -- as in dirty-hands trades -- in art. Writing, well, your hands may be clean at the end of the day but the folks who are serious about it have typist's calluses and worry about carpal tunnel. (Except, it's said, Henry James; trivia from class claims he dictated final-craft copy on the first pass. Yep, type it up and send if off...! Like Shakespeare's boast to have "never blotted a word [he] wrote," count on some rather heavy thought and muttering-aloud beforehand.)
There's much to digest. Hoping this will help me get a bit more done over at I Work On A Starship than I've been doing.
* I strongly suspect from what I hear and read that an MFA is mildly wasted on the young. A little time in the trenches -- or at least working at the [whatever it is] and out in the big loud world -- seems in nearly all cases to produce a better-rounded and better-grounded scholar.
6 months ago