Rachel Cusk’s article: in praise of the creative writing course

22 Jan

Over the weekend, I was interested to read an article by Rachel Cusk in the Review section of The Guardian (available to read at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jan/18/in-praise-creative-writing-course) on whether the cynicism surrounding creative writing courses is beginning to look outdated.  The article emphasises the controversy around the standards that these students in these classes are held to.  People can give you all sorts of advice, and often do, regarding what constitutes good writing but whose opinion should you listen to, if any at all?

A lot of these creative writing courses do train people to produce work to a ‘publishable standard.’  After all, seeing their work in print is the ultimate goal for a lot of writers.  The publishing world is like any sector and in many ways, creative writing courses hone your ability to make your mark on such a competitive industry.  However, I suppose the fear here is that these courses will inevitably churn out hordes of unoriginal authors, jumping on bandwagons of topics and themes that are considered popular.  You just have to look at the ridiculous number of books that were published in the aftermath of the Twilight success, all featuring vampires.  Or the ‘erotic thrillers’ that came out after the housewives’ favourite, Fifty Shades of Grey.

While this is a concern, I feel that the market can differentiate between the trashy and the literary.  And there’s a market for both.  If creative writing courses can provide support and encouragement to writers then surely this is a positive thing.  Many would-be writers do not have the confidence to get started, doubting themselves and their ability.  Courses like these could offer some form of guidance with a basic set of tools and encouragement, motivating them to succeed.

In the same vein, I received my first feedback from the LSJ course and so far, it’s been incredibly useful with personalised suggestions from my tutor and advice on books to read that would help me in my writing.  Guess I’ll have to wait and see how the course progresses though to give a full analysis.

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