Monday, July 13, 2015


     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. 


fillyjonk said...

The longer I spend in harness teaching college, the more I think most "kids today" would benefit from a couple years of either military service, civil service, or job experience before heading off to college. If nothing else most of those situations teach a person perspective and what is and is not a "crisis."

And I say that as someone who would seriously have chafed, at age 18, being told I had to cool my heels doing ten-key work or serving as an orderly for two-three years before I could head off to college..

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you're feeling inspired. I greatly enjoy your Sci-Fi efforts-you have an engaging storytelling style and your characters are cleverly conceived.

Looking forward to more,


Roberta X said...

Thank you, Ed!

Fillyjonk, at least a break before grad school! --It is pretty amusing to have a guy with all manner of high-culture and academic refer to what he learned *directly* in an MFA program as "artsy-fartsy stuff." I gathered that his point was not that it was useless but that to get full benefit, strong craft skills and at least a pinch of cynicism were prerequisites.

Old NFO said...

Looking forward to book 2! :-)

Unknown said...

I took "How to Write Good" in college.

Roberta X said...

How'd that work out for you?