Writers ask me all the time if they should do an MFA, a degree that gets lots of negative criticism these days. I tell them that my own experience was very positive, a great start to a long career, and I list the main things I got out of the MFA.
Professional writing -- be it screenwriting or copywriting -- has never been a simple career path, let alone a financially sound one. The difference today is that the competition is way too fierce for the demand.
If you're trying to make a living as a fiction writer, I certainly know a great many self-published writers who are able to do that. Literary writers, or even commercial writers like me, have a tougher time making a solid income from our fiction.
Every time I write, I find myself forced to confront parts of myself that I'd rather run away from. At the moment, I want to run away from my own egotism, considering the way I'm going on and on about me. Focus on others to find true happiness, they say. Let's give that a shot.
Long before I published my first novel, I tried to join a neighborhood fiction writing workshop, only to be told by one member, 'Sorry, come back when you get published. We can't accept novices.' Yeah, that stung.
Social media is supposedly the answer to the eternal question of what will make your book a hit, and there are hundreds of people willing to sell you a book (or their consulting services) that they guarantee will reveal the secret to success. It's all 21st-century snake oil.
Alice Munro's writing, like all great writing, teaches us to be human. It engages big questions in small spaces: What does it mean to be regional? What does it mean to be Canadian? What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be betrayed?
With on-demand publishing companies putting out the works of over 400,000 self-published titles and MFA programs cranking out a slew of new writers, readers are more and more in demand... especially readers who do not want to be writers and who are satisfied with the pure joy of reading.
As writers, we need to be aware of the ways in which our work can be read; weeding out the useful from the non-useful is an important skill, as is reading closely for what might be improved. But it can be a slippery slope.
Creative writing is a subset of therapy, with the same essential modalities -- except, like everything else in our culture, it comes in a stripped, dumbed down version that partakes little of the rigors of psychotherapy.
A degree is not something I look for when selecting artists for Offramp Gallery. The bottom line is always the work. I look for work that's honest, creative, original, skillfully executed and intensely visual.