Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Formal Education and Writing

Here’s Churchill in my writing corner, wondering what the heck I think I’m doing. Need I admit I’m playing with the camera when I should be working? LOL!

Lydia’s question for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog:
“What formal writing experience do you have? (classes, degrees, major/minors). Did it shape your writing? Have you ever considered getting an MFA?”

I have a BA in English, earned mumble years ago.  Did my education shape my writing?

Maybe.  I read many brilliant books for those classes, and a few clunkers, which might not have been so awful if I’d understood them.  I’ve always been a painfully literal person, and sarcasm and satire often go right over my head.  Novels like Babbitt were excruciatingly boring because I missed the point altogether.

The “bad” novels were painful, but in many ways the great novels were worse.  How could I write to that standard?  How could I make my characters live and breath?  How could I entice readers to see and hear and smell my settings?  I knew it would take practice.  A lot of practice.

Yet the MFA programs have never tempted me, probably because I’m a genre reader and writer.  Literary and mainstream don’t interest me, and all the MFA programs I’ve noticed emphasize literary writing.  The extra years of effort didn’t seem worth the possible results.

How do you feel about MFA programs?  What formal writing training have you had?

I hope y’all had a happy holiday week, and I’m wishing you a prosperous New Year!


  1. "earned mumble years ago"
    LOL, that's me these days too. I agree that the MFA thing doesn't fit so many writers out there.
    Have a great week, Deb!

  2. Who wants to sit in a classroom and be told what to read and write when it's not related to your areas of interest? I'm organized. I can research a good reading list in (and out of) my genres. I have enough ideas to write every day, and you know, it's the writing that helps us grow our skills. Write, and keep writing. Read too, but make your own learning plan. With the internet, anything is possible. (And ultimately, cheaper than an MFA.)

  3. Hi Lydia! Wishing a great week back at you!

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, dmbonanno! :-)

  4. Such a great point. I'm not that into literary fiction either...I think the classes would bore me to tears. And suck out my soul.

    Nice post!

  5. Hey, Laura! I totally agree with you. I don't last long when I'm bored. Life's too short, and I'm too old to put up with it. ;-)

  6. Hi Deb, I agree with Laura. =)
    I gave you an award on my blog. Thank you for being one of my first supporters on my blog when I started way back...check out the award if you want. =)


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