Archive for June, 2009


battle scars

Kerouac07.jpg picture by zanzinece 

My main man Kerouac


Oh, the pitfalls of on-line classes, of this particular on-line creative writing class I’ve taken, anyway.  It’s still going on, but it’s as good as over to me.  There are a few more motions to go through, and after that perhaps I’ll at least have come away with a one thousand dollar story to tell.  Certainly, I’ll come away with a few good and valuable things learned and one hell of a short story bible.  The plan is to offload those things here, but you know how even the best laid plans can go.  So while it’s in mind, a main theme or two in two tidy nutshells…


Nutshell #1 – good and valuable things learned:


I know a few things about the elements of fiction now—more than I knew before I started the class but far fewer than I should know after taking a college class—because the professor was not in the mix enough.  By that I mean the professor only posted one announcement and one or two comments per two-week module and those were only limply suggestive of guidance.  A bit more guidance was offered in the writing assignment evaluations, but mostly it was just us student bozos posting discussions and comments on assigned readings and on others’ discussions and volunteered pieces—the blind leading the blind.


In summary, if anyone as naïve as I was came to me for advice regarding online creative writing courses, I’d tell them to go beyond flipping over a few rocks on the internet and to really know the professor/instructor.  And when I say “really know” I mean trusted sources confirm that the professor/instructor rocks, and rocks big time.



Nutshell #2 – one hell of a short story bible:


I’d also advise any interested one who shows an aptitude for creative writing to get a copy of Ann Charters’ compilation of the finest short stories known to man, The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction.  I’d tell them this: If a degree track’s not in the equation and you’re an industrious sort, this book could save you a thousand dollars.  You can’t help but absorb the styles of the writers who turn you on.  And although you’ll never lose your style, your voice, completely, thankfully, it will be affected positively by the styles of the writers you admire.  Also, importantly, the Charters book is loaded with discussions and instruction on writing, so either way really, degree track or not, you can’t lose.