I’m currently in school to be a writer, which is when people usually say, “but can one really be taught how to be a writer?” and yes, you can be, and it’s also probably where you learned to be a giant douche.
I’m halfway through a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in writing and I can say with certainty, this is what I’ve learned:
- Pretty much everyone is a jerk who I will stare at blankly while I think about how much I don’t like them.
- It’s real easy to get away with a B in these classes.
And that’s honestly about it. I’ve had the professor who liked me, and the professor who I’m pretty sure thought I was this blonde idiot or something, and another professor who I didn’t like until literally the last class. I’ve had good workshops, and I had one fucking terrible one right before my birthday and I actually thought my life was crumbling to pieces.
It’s possible that I’m just not up for this kind of stuff. I’m not a huge fan of it. It doesn’t help that I’m the sort of person that creates silent enemies. I have several of these enemies that I kind of view as the ultimate nemesis that I must conquer in the course of my life, but they probably have no idea who I am and also would not be able to recall the situation in question which solidified them in the nemesis status in which they currently reside.
Also, it really doesn’t help that every single comment in these classes sound like a weird, passive-aggressive put down. I hate “good effort!” or “great start!” but I put them on every single thing I read because what the fuck else am I going to say?
There are people who are outright cruel and mean, and you can just feel all of our egos just squishing up against each other, and I spent nearly $20 on paper for one story and then I went to class and, like, five people were absent and were like “Hey, could you please e-mail me your story?”
Yes, that will be $4, thank you.
By far, my least favorite part about workshop classes is every second of it. I feel about 10 years old when I’m in one because, more often than not, I have no idea what anyone is saying!!
My favorite, sort of weird platitude people have about writing is “you gotta know the rules before you break them.” This was something I really worked hard at pretending that I understood, but now, I can say with full confidence, that I still pretend that I know what the fuck people are talking about when they say this.
What if that same phrase applied to other things? Like driving? You gotta know the rules before you can become a super awesome stunt driver and flip over cars on the highway. Or surgery? You gotta learn how to do the heart transplant before you can juggle several of them at a time.
What if you know some of the rules? Can you only break the ones that you know? Do I have to prove that I know them?
These are all questions I will never know the answer to because I try really hard to fit in with all these people who are usually better than I am in all possible ways. Probably cause they already figured out this whole rule thing.
When I went to school, I thought I was going to be this really literary writer and go to book parties and talk about the human condition (also something that gets said every four minutes in my classes and I’m like “yep, totally know what that is”) and society and metaphors and annoying shit like that. And then I got to school and tried to do it and I was like, “wow, I actually don’t love this so much.”
And I thought it was the classes and the people and the environment, but I think I’ve pretty much realized that it’s just me. Maybe I just don’t like doing this stuff as much as I thought.
I guess I should have figured that out when all I wanted to do was write short stories from the perspective of Kanye West instead of, like, a gay teenager whose mother is dying of cancer and also has a dead dog or something.
I mean, I’m supposed to write what I know. Or am I thinking of show, don’t tell?
No, its definitely the first one. I think.
And all I really know is that people are lying when they say they don’t like anything Britney Spears has done since 2007 because her greatest album is her 2007 album and I’ll stand by that until my dying day or unless she makes a better album than Blackout and Britney, but that’s pretty much impossible I think, but if anyone can top the legendary Britney Spears, it’s Britney Spears.
Yeah, blah blah blah, Flannery O’Connor once said, “Anyone who has survived childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”
But what if you’re some kind of weird woman-child, immature adult-like, person who can legally vote for the leader of the free world but not drink alcohol? Have I survived childhood?
I don’t think I really survived it, more like got shoved and pushed into adulthood somehow while also not actually getting to be an adult.
I feel like an idiot about 99% of the time I have to write something serious, so I quit.
I’m quitting everyone! You can quit too! You don’t have to feel obligated to always create things that are super serious and meaningful! Write about dumb things!!
I’m just putting that out there, because I feel like a lot of people who are like me fall into this trap and confuse “serious subject material” with “good.” And that doesn’t have to be true.
Here’s to independence from the pretentious liberal arts writing scene!
Just kidding I’ll go back to feeling inadequate in about four minutes after I publish this.