Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Debatable Usage of Writing Classes

(If You Want to Write...)

My first writing class was divine. Julie Bogart (www.bravewriter.com: highly recommended) was my first teacher in an online class where we read Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories and then wrote our own story, just so. Mine was How the Cat Got its Paws. We ran through several different printings because I kept changing my pseudonym from Dr. Danielle Lupin (combination of Ever After and Harry Potter) to Danielle Lynel and finally Gabrielle Linnell (real name. Just FYI.) This class, and this teacher, made me write.

My second writing class was not so hot. I was subjected to a writing curriculum called IEL or some form of EVIL, which consisted of repeating other people's words in barf-worthy ways. This did not last long. My third writing class was with other normal human beings. I was in the fourth grade and already I had formed ideas about style and adjectives. I stayed the year, next time I didn't even bother signing up.

There was also the infamous Writing Camp*. I attended it with my cousin (the only redeeming factor) and... well... the teacher told us to use big words (NO! NO!), the teacher did not recognize my genius (BAD! BAD!) and the teacher just loved that annoying Gina who wrote a short Harriet Potter story (PLAGIARISM, ANYBODY?) I mean, how can you call that original? Granted, I was in my poet stage and anything produced by my chubby hand was worth little. But still.

Excepting years of Julie's classes, I haven't taken writing classes since. I love English classes, because it's academic writing and literature discussion. But when it comes to creative writing, I prefer to self-teach. I know my experience is not everyone's. There are many wonderful writing teachers out there, who have shaped artists and given wind to literary wings. I just haven't met too many of them.

What's your opinion? Have you had good luck with writing classes? Are they worth the expense/taxpayer's money?

* This is not to be confused with the utterly fabulous, incredibly useful Freelance Writing Camp which Gabrielle conducts on a one-by-one basis with herself this week. This is the Dreaded Writing Camp with Evil Gina and Big Words. Very different.

1 comment:

Pema said...

I try to stay away from the big words as well - *no one* wants to go over to their dictionary and look it up. Too many big words and they'll totally lose interest.

As for writing camps.... hmmm.... I've never really *paid* for a writing camp, but I did take a free "Publishing" class through my school. That class was worth it - through it, I found out about New Moon Magazine, where my poem will be published in their July/August edition.

But otherwise, I'm not sure. I'm a bit doubtful of what they'll teach me, but I still think it's good to keep an open mind and one can always learn new tricks about the trade, right?