Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 14, 2016 - 11:02am

So, I was recently in an argument with a person over his belief that a creative writing degree is worthless, and that anybody attending college should pursue something practical.

Response by another person (I wish I was this witty), "You're absolutely right. Send me $19.95 and I'll send you the proof of how worthless it really is. I'll also include a list of practical degrees based on your personality type."

Probably the best response I've heard to the argument.

Anyone have better responses to the parrots against the liberal arts?

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman July 14, 2016 - 1:16pm

I used to coach runners, and I think telling people not to go MFA is like telling high school runners "Why bother? You're not going to be a professional runner." No shit, but you might find something you really enjoy and explore in-depth, and something that will ultimately make you a happier person over your lifetime. 

We all go to school to get a job, why not go to enhance something we love? Why is that such a bad choice? It's a financial choice, but since when has that been someone else's business?

Also, two years doing something you love is a lot better than none years. (Say "none" years because that will make this self-righteous person CRAZY) Maybe you do it for two years and it goes nowhere. So what? 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 14, 2016 - 1:22pm

^ That's my jam!

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 14, 2016 - 6:25pm

I think this stems from experiences with people expecting something just because they have a degree, particularly one in liberal arts, not getting it, and then blaming someone else. Because it does turn out that degrees in writing, women's studies, art history... aren't that marketable. They don't add a lot of value to you as an employee; they don't add value to your labor. Certainly not compared to engineering or accounting or whatever.

But then, I could show you a highly successful business guy who majored in far east philosophy. So, "education" (that piece of paper that says you spat back out some shit people fed you) isn't the end-all be-all anyway.

As usual, the answer's in the middle. If you want to do it, do it. But no one else is to blame if you can't make it into a living.

And no one owes you anything.

DrWood's picture
DrWood from Milwaukee, WI, living in Louisiana is reading A different book every 2-5 days. Currently Infinite Jest July 14, 2016 - 8:23pm

getting an MFA (from a good program) is one way to get credibility. It will make some agents or slush readers at a magazine read a little bit further in your manuscript.

Humboldt Lycanthrope's picture
Humboldt Lycanthrope from California is reading The Dry July 15, 2016 - 8:51am

Tell them the truth: it's a pyramid scheme. But you only have to take a look at LitReacor's online classes to know that a sucker is born every minute (I'm one of them).

Humboldt Lycanthrope's picture
Humboldt Lycanthrope from California is reading The Dry July 15, 2016 - 8:54am

@ DrWood, are you really going to finish Infinite Jest in 2-5 days?

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 15, 2016 - 9:51am

I love the arguments about it being a pyramid scheme, it is a waste of money, it won't lead to a livable wage,  etc.

I love the thousands upon thousands of MFA recipients picketing campuses because they've been duped and are now living a life in ruins.

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman July 15, 2016 - 1:56pm

I hate the waste of money argument. That's probably the worst. Who is going through life making decisions based primarily on economics? Who, I ask? Barring people who are flat broke and don't HAVE a choice whatsoever, ain't nobody spending all their cash wisely. Please. If anyone's hassling you about the economics, I'd ask to see their last year of Amazon purchase history, just to make sure they didn't make any purchases you deem unwise.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 15, 2016 - 8:05pm

^

Well, that argument doesn't entirely work given the rather large cost of "education" and the consistent insistence that it should provide job opportunities once achieved.

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman July 16, 2016 - 11:45am

Only if you subscribe to the idea that education leads directly to a job. Which I don't. 

I should revise that. It totally does, sometimes. I'm a case of that. But I'm thoroughly unhappy in my job. And I think that when we say "Education, job" we're leaving off the important bit, which is "education, job, then stability and happiness." What I really want from a job is stability and happniess, and I don't really have those things. So having that job isn't doing what I want it to. I think a lot of people experience something like this, and as someone with the job but without stability and happiness, I don't think I'm that far ahead of someone with an education and no job. If the job is a means to get stability and happiness, and if people with jobs don't have that, I'm not certain that getting an education that doesn't lead to a job is as stupid a step as it might seem.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 16, 2016 - 1:25pm

Anyone can get a job. The question is, is it the job you want? So, helpfulsnowman is correct in adding the "stability and happiness" aspect to the equation. 

I nailed a great position right after leaving school. The job turned into a nightmare. I jumped into another position that was supposed to be a temp thing until I could find something better. Best job I've ever had. 

Sometimes shit works out, sometimes it doesn't. 

I think the best we can do is encourage people to do what they want to do, within reason. I'm not saying encourage people to become the absolute best meth dealer they can be, but if they want to get an education, learn things, better themselves, you better be a supportive fucker. 

And if you want to throw, "I'm just being a realist," argument in, you're not. You're just being a negative fuck. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 17, 2016 - 3:08am

It is a lot easier to write with the lights on.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 17, 2016 - 8:57am

You know, so far as I can tell, this entire argument people keep having would almost disappear if the sense of entitlement people had also disappeared.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer July 30, 2016 - 8:13pm

I think it is a problem with our society's current approach to higher education. There was a time when going to college was not about job training, but about aquiring knowledge. A liberal education in the arts and sciences produced a well-rounded citizen who was capable of many things. These days, everyone wants to reduce graduate degrees to the equivalent of vocational training. 

You don't get a degree in the liberal arts to get a job. You do it to gain knowledge. Teaching jobs are just a bi-product of possessing that knowledge.

Besides, working in a college town, I see just as many people with business degrees working at Starbucks as I do MFA's. There are very few degrees that ensure a job.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 31, 2016 - 9:52am

The hyper-politicization of so much of "higher" education probably has a strong role in a lot of all this as well.

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman July 31, 2016 - 11:52am

I'm glad this popped up again because I was thinking about it the other day. There's this whole thing with Trump's wife and her speech being ripped off or whatever, and it made me think a lot about how speech writers are supposed to pretend they don't exist. And it made me think quite a bit about how a lot of writers in areas other than books don't get a whole lot of credit. Songwriters don't get credit, performers do. Screenwriters rarely get credit unless they also happen to be directors or Aaron Sorkin. 

Just who is writing all the stuff people enjoy? Andrew Stanton is a writer on Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Wall-E, all kinds of stuff, and I'd bet most people who know him know him as a director, if they know him at all. But we've all heard of Pixar and Ellen and Buzz Lightyear. Most of us can easily name three favorite characters from a sitcom, but how many can name three favorite writers from those same shows? We go see the movies, but how many people can name three working comic book writers? How many people even considered that there was a writing team on something like Mass Effect?

The point being, people make fun of degree-seekers in writing, call them barista degrees, but then go out and enjoy the fruits of a lot of writing labor every day. Writers make our movies awesome, our TV shows funny, our song lyrics meaningful, and they make our politicians sound passionate. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 31, 2016 - 5:00pm

^

That's kind of like how all the celebrities people worship were the kids people shat on in high school, the drama clubbers, the band geeks... 

Robbery2223's picture
Robbery2223 from Richmond, Kentucky is reading Macbeth July 31, 2016 - 10:40pm

I was recently working at a bank, and I let it slip that I was in school to one of the business managers that we partner with. I let him know that I was in a creative writing program and he stopped me right there with, " I have an English degree, you'll never use it. But, I never tried to write anything". That kind of thinking is corrosive to any kind of hope at becoming something. It is hard to hear, but it is especially hard to here from someone within the community. Having a degree gives you the ability to be trained, as it relates to a job application. I have spent years trying to climb my way up the corporate ladder, and every time I made it up another rung I never got happier. I am happy now as a full time student. I know that this path may not lead me down a Scrooge McDuck pile of gold, but it makes me happy. That is an invaluable state of being. I'm just upset that I wasted so much time getting to this point.
For those who criticize you for wanting to write, ask them about the last time they read a menu, or put a piece of furniture together. Ask them about that movie they watched on their date night, or that book for dummies their wives keep pushing at them to improve their sex life. Someone has to write all these things down. In a world of digital media these every day shmucks forget somebody had to write that Netflix series they have been binge watching.

jrbeecher's picture
jrbeecher from Los Angeles is reading About a half dozen different books at the same time (some history, some fiction, and some journalism) August 1, 2016 - 6:37pm

I used some of what I learned in getting my English degree to bullshit my way into building a search keyword taxonomy of millions of keywords. I led the project for almost a decade. Ultimately, the company I worked for at the time decided not to use it, but the project paid my bills for many years.

Most of the people I hired had English, Creative Writing, TV/Film, or Library Science degrees. I found that most of them could understand context and ambiguity better than most engineers and some math majors.

Unfortunately, what we discovered is that we all stopped writing when we worked on this project. Now that none of us is working on it now, half of us are writing again, though I'm the only one with a day job that pays the bills.

If you want to write, then write. If you want to make money, then be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

As far as for the value of a Creative Writing degree, are the people denigrating your choice doing better than you? If they're more creative, wealthier, more emotionally stable, and happier than you, maybe they have something useful to say. If not, who cares what they have to say? Let them be right in their worlds and you can be correct and happy in yours.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore August 5, 2016 - 8:40am

writers in areas other than books don't get a whole lot of credit. Songwriters don't get credit, performers do. Screenwriters rarely get credit unless they also happen to be directors or Aaron Sorkin.

Fame? No. Fortune? Maybe. What fascinates me is how drastically different the writers' role is viewed in such similar mediums. Sure, a film wouldn't exist without its screenwriter, but once the scribe's job is done, very little is thought of them or their contribution. Then again, they're probably cashing a pretty phat check. Film is known as a director's medium. On the other hand, in television, the writer is god almighty. They're probably also the executive producer and showrunner; they're the auteur, the ones who do all the interviews. People know their names. Well, geeks do, anyway.

Songwriters, unless they signed a bad deal, get half of the publishing rights (I joined BMI last year, and it was nice to be able to claim 100% as both writer and performer). They have neither the perks nor pressures of stardom. No one cares what the songwriter looks like or whom they're sleeping with, they're not out on tour for months on end promoting an album of their music, but they're not getting a cut of the merch, either. Did you know than many stars will insist on songwriting credit for tunes they had no role in? They rationalize it as being good exposure for the writer, that they're lucky to be part of it. And true as that may be, it's fucking evil to take away or cut into the writer's only revenue source in that process. That said, of all these mediums, music is the one most likely to feature the writer as the public-facing artist as well, to have them be the same person.

More to your point, do I wish writers had a higher profile in entertainment? Sure. Are they prepared to deal with that? Not most of them. They can have the fame; I'll take the fortune and get back to work.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel August 5, 2016 - 9:50am

Those are all really good points. But out of all of that, I would like the option to choose. Not have it made for me because someone is "looking out for my best interest."

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal August 5, 2016 - 10:07am

Yeah, but it seems the market has largely chosen already.

And let's face it, screenwriters, even the really good ones, are more expendible than a great director or star. Whoever wrote that second batman movie did a good job, but Chris Nolan and Heath Ledger really made that movie what it is. Christian Bale too, I guess.

Then consider Johnny Depp in Pirates... Caribbean. 

Songwriters same thing to an extent. Lots of people can write songs. Less can perform them in a way (even when it's not good...) that so many people buy. Babyface may be an exception to this rule, but then, we've heard of him, haven't we?

But in other mediums it's different. A Steven King novel is sold by his name alone at this point. Ever notice just how big his name is on a book cover these days, vs. even the actual name of the book? 

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman August 5, 2016 - 6:00pm

Beyonce's newest album had 72 writers. Their names appear in the liner notes, which I can't imagine anyone reading in the digital era.

I think people who love a thing will explore the people who made the thing. People who love a TV show will get to know the writers. But the average person doesn't give a hot damn.

Which is all well and good. I think Gordon's right, and I don't think the writers need to be famous. I just like to point out how many writers are involved in a given project as a counter against the idea that learning to write well doesn't have economic value. Your chances of becoming Beyonce are zero, but your chances of collaborating and being a writer on a Beyonce song aren't half bad. 

V.R.Stone's picture
V.R.Stone from London is reading Savages by Don Winslow August 7, 2016 - 3:21am

An MFA is unlikely to be a good 'investment'.

If a corporate executive boosts their long-term earnings power by 25 or 50% with an MBA, then the MBA will pay for itself and then some.

The average writer of literary fiction earns very little, so even if an MFA increases the writer's expected earning power by a similar percentage, we might still be talking about very small numbers.

But many people won't live an 'average' life - their outcomes will be better or worse. If you lived your life a hundred times over, maybe the MFA would mean in one or two more of those you'd get discovered in the slush pile or make a vital connection with someone or win a prize.

Many people have a very conservative attitude to careers - they like the certainty that comes from earning professional qualifications and generating a decent income. They can't deal with the fact that you could gain an MFA and never have your work published, or you could become a literary superstar, whereas if you have a medical degree you will have very predictable outcomes. Pursuing a career in writing is a gamble (if you focus on financial outcomes).

Money is easy to count. How do you quantify happiness? We can't measure a lot of very important things, so we just ignore them. And then we spend money on shit we don't need, take antidepressants and kill ourselves with stress.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore August 8, 2016 - 5:40am

Speaking of TV writers, for viewers over 40, I bet Stephen J. Cannell was one of the first writers they'd ever heard of in any medium, even if they couldn't remember why.

V.R.Stone's picture
V.R.Stone from London is reading Savages by Don Winslow August 8, 2016 - 8:23am

And let's face it, screenwriters, even the really good ones, are more expendible than a great director or star. Whoever wrote that second batman movie did a good job, but Chris Nolan and Heath Ledger really made that movie what it is. Christian Bale too, I guess.

The director is more important in films , compared with TV, because film is more multi-dimensional. There's more focus on creating a mood, rather than just having people talking, moving the story along etc.

Interestingly, though, True Detective season 2 seemed to really suffer from the loss of Cary Fukunaga - the director - I think because the first season's cinematic quality was what made it a success. That show was all about the mood - the story was somewhat flawed. People made a big fuss about Nic Pizzolato - the writer - but it seems like the director may have been more important.

V.R.Stone's picture
V.R.Stone from London is reading Savages by Don Winslow August 8, 2016 - 8:28am

Also intersting that you mention Nolan. You could argue that his writing is poor - you get some real nonsense in his films - but he's great on the visuals. Kind of like a fiction writer with great prose who can't craft a story.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal August 8, 2016 - 8:44am

^ yeah, you could. he sure made up for the joker being, ahem, dead, with the "commissioner gordon's confession letter" pretty shittily. i just selectively forget that part.

but i'm one of the people who liked inception, so...

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel August 9, 2016 - 7:40pm

I can deal with being in debt. I can't deal with turning my back on what I want my life to be.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal August 9, 2016 - 9:57pm

^ now that's a quotable quote right there

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated August 21, 2016 - 2:28am

If you aren't making money you are limited. A creative writing degree seems like a big thing that won't let me write what I want. I'll have to deal with more debt, paying that off, hassle hassle hassle. I am working a lot of hours at a job that is okay because if I get out of debt largely because that gets rid of the biggest single distraction I have. If someone else gets something out of all that, great, but not my thing.

Eric Romm's picture
Eric Romm from I'm from California October 14, 2016 - 1:59am

Creative writing is not an easy job. I've had people telling me that it's just writing. But more than writing, it takes visualization, and the right timing to make it interesting and engage your readers with unexpected turns (killing Jon Snow for instance). 

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon October 23, 2016 - 8:51am

Sorry so long. I see two separate issues here. 

1) First, is the issue of being able to make a good living. That is extremely important in life, especially as you get older and likely find yourself with a spouse, mortgage, kids, need for health insurance and etcetera. 

If you make a decent living, you also then get to do much of what you want to do because your life isn't largely taken up with just getting by and hardship. If you don't make a decent living, your life will be harder and you'll have less room for anything but getting by. This will also hugely effect your future spouse and kids' lives as well.

The problem is, when we make these choices we often just aren't in a stage of life to really "get" what the long term consequences will be yet we think we know what we don't know. Saying something and thinking about it are not nearly the same as living it and being stuck with it for life.

Obviously, there are no guarantees either way but that is a poor reason not to heavily stack odds in your favor whenever you can. If one of my kids had wanted to major in creative writing, I would have a serious talk with them and may not help them pay for it.

I'd say prepare to make a decent living first. Go to the US department of labor site and see what jobs pay the best and have the best projected growth. You don't have to pick the highest but do choose from the upper half, at least. There will be plenty of reasonable, practical choices to pick from so pick one of those and achieve it. Work is work, not entertainment or only what you feel like doing. It's about money. You don't know what job you'll like anyway, although you should pick something that you have aptitude for. After all that is the time to do what you want. That's my opinion.

2) Second, is the issue of other people who don't have any stake in you butting into your business and giving unsolicited advice. (Er, I don't mean this thread because I assume by posting it you were asking us for input lol). That is something I can't stand. I doubt anyone likes it. You certainly do not need to clear anything you decide to do with everyone who walks by. In my opinion, he is being overbearing and rude.

What I've learned the hard way (is there any other way to learn, really? :p) is when someone annoys me with their nosey opinion, just don't engage. If it's not a conversation you want to have, then don't have it. It helps to have stock phrases ready, whatever you'd actually be okay with saying. "We'll see." "Thank you for sharing." Or just "Hmmm." If the keep badgering, keep repeating your phrase or change the subject or say, "I don't want to talk about that right now." Etcetera. If it's not their business and you don't want their advice, don't allow them to drag you into a conversation about it.

Of course being friends means sharing your business to some extent, so it's not an all-or-nothing. If someone pushes their unrequested advice on me too far once, that's my cue to not disclose my business to them in the future. I'm selective about telling people I don't know well any of my business that might be controversial in the first place now. How about if they say, "Oh, you're going to school? What are you majoring in?" Just say "I'm not sure yet," and change the subject.

Hope this helps and best of luck with whatever you do.

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated December 9, 2016 - 1:36pm

In the words of the Wu Tang Clan, "Cash rules everything around me." I am not saying don't do anything, I'm saying do it in a way that keeps the lights on.

Leo Walsh's picture
Leo Walsh from Cleveland, Ohio area is reading "The Underground Railroad" and "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" December 19, 2016 - 11:52am

I’d give you the same advice as I give my kids. Go for what you love. You’ll never retire thinking, “Wish I’d have spent more time in the office!!!!!!” :-)


But professionally, I prefer liberal arts people. They "play well with others." And communicate better than techies.


Business majors approach everything as a power-grab. "Will this advance my career?" Tech people seem to think a digital system will solve every problem regardless human cost. Liberal arts people, by contrast, are more mentally flexible.

In addition to business and tech issues -- “Can we do this? Will it make money?” -- liberal arts majors think larger. They add necessary ethical considerations. “Is this just? Will it hurt people unnecessarity?”  

A completed degree is important, highlighting stick-to-it-iveness. I'd ask about your creative writing projects, and how you'd be able to use those skills to, say, sell dental products. Or provide customer support. Etc.

Problem is that HR departments now screen resumes and applications via algorithm. So, if a company’s hiring sales people, the HR manager amy set a filter to “only marketing degrees.” So zero people will see your resume.

Sad. Things are different now than when I was your age.

helpfulsnowman's picture
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helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman December 20, 2016 - 5:56pm

^ Wow, that's a really interesting take on it that I wholeheartedly agree with. 

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area by way of Chicago is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien December 20, 2016 - 6:52pm

^ and ^^ 

As a man with no degree I whole heartedly agree! 

 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami December 27, 2016 - 10:08pm

Ah ok a thread from a while ago.

Creative writing is great, creative writing degree is a joke.

I also can't take college deans and creative writing teachers seriously. If they were earning money on their writing, they wouldn't be there "teaching English" slapping BS grades on stuff for a subjective medium. Such academic drivel is beneath me.

Take a look at romance novels, say what you want, those writers know their market. I may no like romance (the endings, not the genre), but you got to credit that.

I'll even go a step further, and say writing for "art" and "money" is beneath me.

I write for emotional therapy. That is it. All else is secondary.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel January 5, 2017 - 1:55am

Can we agree that all of us write for different reasons? Some for emotion, others for fame, some for a combination between the two. 

While a creative writing is something cathartic; the degree may be a joke; let us not denigrate anyone who works toward either.

And looking at markets will definitely not get us anywhere.

Writing for art, or money, or catharsis is not going to get us closer toward a better understanding if creative writing is good or bad. It will just be arguing that creative writing is good and bad for certain people.

What we need to focus on is creative writing as something that can be taught or not? I believe that it can be taught. Anyone is of course able to disagree, but the current arguments aren't really helping us. We're going to have to dig deeper if we want to hope that closure is possible. 

Maybe this is asking too much of you all. Maybe I should keep it simple, not simpler. Would that help?

And if you feel like I've not responded toward your post, or if I'm being condescending, .... that's not my current concern. Let's get this argument back on track.

V.R.Stone's picture
V.R.Stone from London is reading Savages by Don Winslow January 5, 2017 - 9:04am

What we need to focus on is creative writing as something that can be taught or not?

Put it another way: you have to learn how to write. Now, maybe you do that by spending 20 years reading and the rest of your life writing stories and workshopping them. Or you sign up for an MFA and you spend a period of time being compelled to write and getting feedback from your peers and instructors. Is there any fundamental difference between me reading a book on the craft of writing and having an instructor on a writing course tell me about the craft of writing? I don't think so.

Can you teach any individual to be a great writer? No, of course not. But I think a period of structured learning would make most people better.

Whether an MFA is worth it financially is a different issue. But if there was no economic cost to taking time off work and attending a course, I don't think you could argue that it would be a waste of time.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 5, 2017 - 11:14am

Can we agree that all of us write for different reasons? Some for emotion, others for fame, some for a combination between the two.

I'd agree with that.

While a creative writing is something cathartic; the degree may be a joke; let us not denigrate anyone who works toward either.

I'd agree with that on its face.

And looking at markets will definitely not get us anywhere.

I don't necessarily agree with that.

Writing for art, or money, or catharsis is not going to get us closer toward a better understanding if creative writing is good or bad. It will just be arguing that creative writing is good and bad for certain people.

I don't see how creative writing, in and of itself, can be good or bad. Even after acknowledging that good and bad are judgements of human beings (I'm getting taoist here for a second), creative writing is like jogging or stamp collecting in that regard. It just is. Not to mention that this is more about the degree, not the activity.

What we need to focus on is creative writing as something that can be taught or not? I believe that it can be taught. Anyone is of course able to disagree, but the current arguments aren't really helping us. We're going to have to dig deeper if we want to hope that closure is possible.

Of course it can be taught. Did every great painter receive no instruction? But it must also be learned. (Getting poetic here for a second.) 

Maybe this is asking too much of you all. Maybe I should keep it simple, not simpler. Would that help? And if you feel like I've not responded toward your post, or if I'm being condescending, .... that's not my current concern. Let's get this argument back on track.

Well, that last bit was maybe condescending, but who cares. I agree with getting the argument back on track. Which brings me back to my conclusion: hey, do what you want, just don't complain if you can't get a job with it.

 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 5, 2017 - 11:20am

Whether an MFA is worth it financially is a different issue. But if there was no economic cost to taking time off work and attending a course, I don't think you could argue that it would be a waste of time.

I don't know about that... Plenty of things that don't deny you chances to make money can be wastes of time. Shit, I think anything you don't get anything out of is a waste of time. For example: every Sunday I had to go to church as a kid. I got nothing out of that shit except boredom and contempt.

 

 

Can you teach any individual to be a great writer? No, of course not. But I think a period of structured learning would make most people better.

Exactly. Take any star athlete- most people can't be that kind of athlete no matter what they do. But the athlete still needs coaching. 

Side note- just because structured learning would work, does not mean less structured woudln't work. That's arguing the antecedent, which a logical fallacy. 

 

James Nowlan's picture
James Nowlan is reading Surveiller et Punir Je ne suis pas venu içi pour être heureux The Master and Margarita January 7, 2017 - 9:55am

Education in America is a racket. It's a necessary step to being a part of the middle class and this is abused by the people in the education industry. If you're required to go to college in order to get any job other than Walmart or McDonalds the it IS vocational training but simply vocational training without any real focus and relevance.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 7, 2017 - 11:13pm

^

This guy really hates the system...

James Nowlan's picture
James Nowlan is reading Surveiller et Punir Je ne suis pas venu içi pour être heureux The Master and Margarita January 11, 2017 - 12:02pm

The system hates me....corrupt institutions have educational products of (very) questionable value to sell and when they suspected me of representing a barrier to this they harassed me in a criminal way.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 11, 2017 - 12:39pm

more vagueries. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman January 13, 2017 - 11:35am

I just had this argument with a friend today.

Regarding inauguration, I felt that a poet who read a poem should definitely be paid to do that. My friend didn't disagree but said, "Do you think so? Isn't about the platform and so many people hearing your work?"

And I said absolutely not. Does the secret service agent work that day because everyone will see what a great job they did and likely hire them for a gig? No. Why? Because the very idea is dumb.

Sometimes I fear creative writing becomes a joke because writers feel guilty about asking to be compensated what they're worth. 

James Nowlan's picture
James Nowlan is reading Surveiller et Punir Je ne suis pas venu içi pour être heureux The Master and Margarita January 13, 2017 - 11:46am

Less vaguely corrupt institutions an America selling a product of questionable worth (MFAs) are in collusion with their European susidiaries who are selling a product of questionable worth (MBAs) and have harassed me in a criminal manner and prevented me from seeking job training because why? I can only guess that the presence of someone who is not part of their corrupt network is seen as a threat.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 13, 2017 - 11:37pm

if the poet is invited to do it, and knows he/she won't be paid, and agrees... isn't that fine?

and i gotta agree, the exposure alone will generate some sales, if the poet has anything for sale.

no one that i'm aware of hired bruno mars after his (unpaid) superbowl halftime show... but his success increased dramatically.

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. January 14, 2017 - 12:28am

@helpfulsnowman. Not all compensations are cash.