I was reminded, yesterday, of the blog I posted on April 24th, called “Creative Writing Courses - should you or shouldn’t you?”
It was one of the snarky blogs that has seen a decent amount of traffic, but which I always feared might make me cringe, at some point, with embarrassment. It’s a chance I seem to take all too regularly.
I had just heard that Jeanette Winterson has taken the Creative Writing Chair at Manchester, and I noticed her piece on the subject in the “Author Author” column of the Guardian yesterday morning (Sat 19-05-12).
I braced myself. Surely, if Ms Winterson is going to become a Professor of Creative Writing she must, in some way, intend to teach creative writing, and it’s a subject upon which I have been at least a little damning.
Now, I have always admired Ms Winterson’s work, beginning with “Oranges are not the Only Fruit”, which I thought was quite brilliant, as well as being timely. I looked again, recently, at an interview she did for the BBC in 1994, and although her intensity can be a little alarming, I decided that she does talk sense, and I couldn’t help being drawn in by her obvious earnest belief in what she was saying, and, more importantly, in what she was doing in her work.
So, I read what Jeanette Winterson had to say about teaching Creative Writing at Manchester, and I thought she hit the nail very squarely on the head. I find myself entirely in accord with her assessment of these kinds of courses, and there is no doubt in my mind... none whatever, that the MA course she will soon be teaching will have great value, at the very least to her students, and, I hope, eventually, to those of us who take reading as seriously as we taking writing.
I’m sure you can find her wise words on the Guardian’s website, and I generally hate to quote out of context, but, on this occasion, I’m going to do it anyway...
Writing should be personal but not insular. If we are not readers we cannot be writers. Reading widely is necessary. A course that encourages students to read outside their own interests will expand what they have to say. - Jeanette Winterson