This Tuesday night, I'll be attending my first "creative writing class" ever. I was accepted into a six-weeks writing workshop titled "The Art of the Short Story," at the New York State Writers Institute, a highly respected but definitely "literary" outfit.

There was an anonymous submission process, and I sent in the first 20 manuscript pages of Mood Swing. So evidently the fact that it's genre fiction didn't turn them off, but I'm in the process of shoring up my ego to withstand the possible critiques. Oh, I've been to plenty of workshops and belonged to writers' groups, but all were of the "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" persuasion. (I'm exaggerating - I've been critiqued, but in a basically constructive fashion. )

On public radio's "Fresh Air," I recently heard an interview with the lead singer/songwriter of the group Weezer, in which he talked about his trepidation in going back to Harvard and taking creative writing with younger unknowns. He survived, though, and I hope I will too.

What do others think about taking creative writing classes after you've been writing for years? Any advice?

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I like Stephen King's book too. In my course, so far the instructor hasn't talked at all about his own work or approach, but I'm planning to ask him to do just that.
I seldom read books about writing, but my friend Kerri told me I had to read King's. So I bought it.

And there it sits on my to-read shelf.
I graduated with a minor in creative writing, which still meant a thorough dousing in the university's program. I can't say I got a lot out of it.

The class was divided between those who came into it talented and those who, er, um, didn't. That was how people left, too. The lessons deconstructed novels into their working parts, which was helpful to a point. Most of the program, however, revolved around group critiques, which were too soft for their own good.

The benefit came from being required to write more, not because we talked about writing. I would've engaged the spigot more than the pen had I not been forced to write. And I got better.
P.S. To those considering taking a course or buying a book, I will condense everything into three words that sums them up:

Show, don't tell.

Let me know where I can send the bill.


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