I came upon Ryan Boudinot’s article ‘Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One‘ after following a series of links. I read about the criticism he received before I actually read it. So I was biased from the beginning. People were going on about how he had to be a cruel person to write what he did, but after I read it I didn’t agree with them.
I found that the article really spoke to me. It was a dose of realism for people, who perhaps had been ignorant of what to expect when it came to the world of writing. I remember in my own creative writing course at USC (Australia) this question was posed many times. How does a person become a creative writer? Well Boudinot answers it. You’re either born with the talent for it or not. Some people are creative in terms of words and stories, others are not. A few will be masters of it, most will either be average or give up altogether.
He states that people who are serious about writing decide early on in their lives if it’s worth pursuing or not. I wanted to write stories since I was 13 and had dabbled in it since around 11/12. And people who complain about not having the time to write are simply not creating or finding it. That is their problem.
Also, the better you are as a writer the more people will read/like you. It’s true. Furthermore once you give up insecurity of how people will look at you and your work, you will create some of your best work. Complete freedom from others gives you complete freedom to write. Which follows this next point. The old publishing model is dying and it is up to individual people to give life to their works. Don’t rely on others to carry you.
You know your a writer when you do this.
I am not yet good enough or well know enough (and won’t be for a while) to have people come knocking on my door. Or realistically emerging in my living room through the means of the internet. Well known and prolific writers are however experiencing this. The internet has allowed some people who don’t have a sense of boundaries to step over the front gate and open the door into your abode.
In one article by Joanne Harris she describes how some people do not realise what they can realistically expect from their favourite storyteller. Expecting authors to write books to order, not taking into account that these people live in the real world. They have to find time to earn an income if they do not get enough from their writing, which is most authors by the way! They also have to manage that money along with their time. They are human after all. But at the same time she realises the value of readers.
With all that being said, Harris created a manifesto in which she states what her writing is about. It is advice I’m going to take because it frees me from the confines of my own mind and feelings. This is how she interacts with her writing and readers. It is also how I want to base my writing career to.
- 1. I promise to be honest, unafraid and true; but most of all, to be true to myself – because trying to be true to anyone else is not only impossible, but the sign of a fearful writer.
- 2. I promise not to sell out – not even if you ask me to.
- 3. You may not always like what I write, but know that it has always been the best I could make it at the time.
- 4. Know too that sometimes I will challenge you and pull you out of your comfort zone, because this is how we learn and grow. I can’t promise you’ll always feel safe or at ease – but we’ll be uneasy together.
- 5. I promise to follow my story wherever it leads me, even to the darkest of places
- 6. I will not limit my audience to just one group or demographic. Stories are for everyone, and everyone is welcome here.
- 7. I will include people of all kinds in my stories, because people are infinitely fascinating and diverse.
- 8. I promise that I will never flinch from trying something different and new – even if the things I try are not always successful.
- 9. I will never let anyone else decide what I should write, or how – not the market, my publishers, my agent, or even you, the reader. And though you sometimes try to tell me otherwise, I don’t think you really want me to.
- 10. I promise not to be aloof whenever you reach out to me – be that on social media or outside, in the real world. But remember that I’m human too – and some days I’m impatient, or tired, or sometimes I just run out of time.
- 11. I promise never to forget what I owe my readers. Without you, I’m just words on a page. Together, we make a dialogue.
- 12. But ultimately, you have the choice whether or not to follow me. I will open the door for you. But I will never blame you if you choose not to walk through it.
I’m pretty sure I failed English in high school with a C- overall grade. Hell even before that, during primary school I scored lower than the state average during this state-wide evaluation of the spelling level of all primary students. Despite my parents telling me about my positioning, I didn’t let it bother me. Probably because I can be dismissive in regards to how others should tell me how I feel about things. In my first year of Sunshine Coast, I got 54 out of 100 in my Intro to Creative Writing class.
That class was a bitch to get through and I even though I felt so bad about my grade that I had doubts about being a writer, I stuck to my dreams. So the class was hard, I’ve never really applied my desire to write into a structured setting before. Creatively writing stories to a set criteria was hard, still is. But I knew that the degree I was in was the right one for me. And I stuck to it. And learnt so much. I think more than the postgrad diploma I did.
You have to be objective about everything in your life. I knew I did ok with the stories I wrote in class, but I do better left on my own. I learnt to build a thick skin and think critcally about how a story, how my stories should be written.
While I’m still a youngin’ when it comes to putting myself and stories on the internet I know that I can handle what gets thrown at me.
I just spent my two days off from work working on this ghost story but now I think I’ve been going about it all wrong. I’ve already written 17,000 words and I might have to cut a lot of it out 😦 In fact I might have to re-start it 😦 I know it’s too good to throw away but God it’s annoying. And I’ve even written some good things too.