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August 5th, 2004, 08:40 PM
I have been attending writer workshops at The Writers Center in Bethesda MD and up to now have enjoyed my experience. However, I have to say, that the workshop that Iím currently attending was a shop to my system.
For the first 5 weeks I have been enjoying the interaction between the instructor, other students, and myself. We were discussing other peopleís submissions. I have to admit that the instructor had some insight feedback. He is very detail oriented. He could always identify a disconnect between on page 3 and page 27.
So, needless to say, I was excited about the impending discussions about my piece. I should mention that I am the only one turning in a Fantasy submission.

Well the day finally came and I couldnít wait. Iím always excited to discuss my stuff. Well any other time he usually doesnít want to start the discussion. But not this time.
He starts the show saying that he didnít know what to say. He didnít understand anything about what was going on. Nothing was believable. And that was it. After that, I was hard pressed to get any feedback from the rest of the class either.

One person said that she didnít have any issues understanding it, but then again she read thrillers all the time. The instructor rolled his eyes and said that he didnít read thrillers.
I after the fact I was able to looked at the copies that students returned to me with comments. They all had good feedback. So it wasnít a total loss.

I supposed that if I wrote about 3 years in Dublin, he would have loved it. Yes, Iím a little irritated. I just shut down on my submission and didnít give me my due.

I didnít expect him to call what I wrote brilliant or even say that it was good. But I did expect the same courtesy that he gave everyone else. Tell me what is not clear. Tell me what needs more detail. Point out the character that falls a little flat. Tell me the story doesnít work. Anything.

Iíve been mulling over pursuing an MFA and Iíve been thinking Ö
Will I find myself looked down on for my chosen genre in class? Will I be forced to submit 50 pages of searching for sea shells on the Najare beach in order to be respected? Will they always be looking down their noses at what I turn in?

Can anyone give me any insight? Warnings? Encouragement? A wake up call?


World Builder
August 5th, 2004, 09:00 PM
Speaking from my own limited experience, I imagine it will depend on the instructor. Some instructors will encourage fantasy along with any other genre, others might view genre fiction as childish. I've taken two creative writing classes and had to good fortune of having a professor who encouraged genre fiction. His first novel was a fantasy book, and he suggested several fantasy books along with Literary novels for summer reading. (One of his suggestions was His Dark Materials, which I've finally gotten around to reading).

This semester I'll be taking two more writing classes, with two different professors. Whether they're encouraging of Fantasy is yet to be seen.

Of course, this is all generalized assumptions. The style and sub-genre of fantasy might also affect the instructors rejection or acceptance of it. My prof liked some of my early stuff, but not much of it.

ironchef texmex
August 5th, 2004, 09:08 PM
Sea shells? Let's get something clear right off the bat; if you want to be 'respected' you can't write about shell hunting or even your feelings about shell hunting.... No, you need to write about your feelings about your feelings about shell hunting.

Sorry, but if you're going to write from one of the Bermuda Triangle genres (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) you're probably going to be looked down on by the (Now everyone do the quotes thingie with their fingers) literary elite.

The only answer is fandom. Join the party. Are we lepers? Sure we're lepers. What of it? Post your stuff here. You don't need outsiders. You can be criticized and degraded by your own kind. :D

August 5th, 2004, 09:14 PM
Well, your teacher doesn't sound like much of a teacher. There is no way to base your writing on one person's opinion. He sounds very biased and small-minded. I took a writing class about six months ago and the teacher was just the opposite; he was really into non-rhyming poetry and had us do 'free association' writing even when hinted (it was a small class) that I needed some goals and order. Nonetheless just being there gave me enough of a push to switch my life goal to writing. Take another class or otherwise soak up enough encouragement somewhere to undo the bad mindset your teacher inflicted upon you. -Good luck ;)

August 5th, 2004, 09:25 PM
I agree with the above comments. Mostly with Ironchef. You don't need outsiders telling you your work stinks. We can do that for you right here and for a lot less money (wait, I'm doing this for free! I need to rethink that part).

All kidding aside, if you feel you have a work with some ups and down but don't know where those ups and downs are, post in here to swap a work with someone. You'll get ample (and quality) feedback from nearly anyone here. Also, feel free to post snippets (up to 1000 words) for a quick critique from many people.

August 5th, 2004, 09:37 PM
I am only 12 there-for I have only had English classes in school but the way I see it your teacher either: May have something against you :p , Sees something special in you and thinks you can do better ;) , or thinks you have no talent.

No rude or anything but do you mind if I comment on that story of yours or is it too much to type online?

James Barclay
August 6th, 2004, 04:36 AM
Who wants to be accepted by a bunch of pipe-smoking snobs anyway? Write what is in your heart and what you love.

It's a shame that our genres are stigmatised but that's the way with much popular literature when you think about it... chick-lit, crime, thrillers, romance... You'll note there is often a correlation between how popular a genre is with the 'masses' and how much it is looked down upon by this nebulous group we are calling the 'literary-academia'.

You'll also note that books that become uber-popular and break out in to mass markets are re-classified out of their looked down upon genres. Lord of the Rings is often described as a mythical classic of English literature, Harry Potter is a classic of children's literature... you'll have your own examples.

And on a personal note, I turned in a sci-fi/fantasy short-story to an English teacher of mine when I was fifteen and he told me to read Franz Kafka and not bother to do any more of this sort of thing again. I am now a full time fantasy writer with six books under my belt. Don't let anyone knock you from the path you want to tread. Learn what you can and apply it to your chosen genre.


August 6th, 2004, 07:10 AM
It may be that you might need to look at one of the genre workshops for relevant feedback if that's what you need. Alternatively, Forums like ours or meetings where you can meet other readers/writers with a similar view can be good.

Though I don't write myself, I've got to agree with what's been said above.

Slightly off topic, but another one of those personal stories (but it is relevant, I think).

I was at school on a parent's evening. In front of me my parents were told, 'He's a good reader/writer. Once we've got him off that science fiction stuff, he'll be alright.' 30+ years later, still reading it, still loving it and working in education (not English, but another subject I love) passing on the word about 'good stuff' when I get chance.

I don't regret my choice of reading material, at all! :D

Don't give up.
Do what you want to do.
Write for your own pleasure, and if the sales come along, that's a bonus.


August 8th, 2004, 03:10 AM
Thanks for all of your replies.

Sometimes its just good to get a little encouragement.

August 8th, 2004, 03:51 AM
I suppose in the end you write what feels right to you. The subject that fires your imagination, the one that attracts you. The one that you feel you have a story to tell.

If you have no interest in the subject how can you write about it with any passion? Least that is how I feel. The best stories are not always the technically brilliant or well crafted. The best stories for me are the ones that linger in your mind long after you have read them.