Writing Wrongs

December 30, 2005

So I took a couple of writing classes this year. Both were . . . okay. I got something from each, but in the final assessment, I was under-whelmed by the lecture materials and the instructor feedback. If Iím paying money for instructor feedback, I want feedback, darn it. Not knee-jerk regurgitations about adverbs. I already know about the evils of adverbs. Honestly.

Iíve considered a low-residency MFA program. Sort of. I always scroll down to the part about cost. These things run $5,000 per semester. Excuse me? What do I get for $5,000 per semester? That really isnít clear. In general, an MFA in writing will set you back $30,000 as far as I can tell. For that kind of money, Iíd expect John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jane Smiley at my door, all set for some literary butt kicking.

And really, $30,000 is too much to pay for what can sometimes amount to nothing but serious navel gazing.

But I need something. I like taking classes, always have. It lets me silence the internal critic that says Iím not learning enough, studying enough, doing anything enough when it comes to writing. So this year Iíve decided to construct my own writing program.

Iím going to use Master Class in Fiction Writing: Techniques from Austen, Hemingway, and Other Greats. Why pay $30,000 when you can fork over twelve bucks? Thatís what I always say. Actually, it was a Christmas present (I made out like a bandit, no?), and I can borrow the novels that go along with it from the library. So essentially, itís free. (Insert evil laughter here, evil, adverb-tinged laughter.)

I also received Spunk & Bite: A writer's guide to punchier, more engaging language & style. I like this if only for the snarky title. In essence, Iím going for style and substance.

The biggest hurdle is, of course, follow-through. When youíre in a class, you have assignment deadlines. On the other hand, Iím already a self-starter when it comes to writing.

And if I ever need to kick my own butt (in lieu of Vonnegut, Updike, and Smiley), all I need to do is think of that $5,000 per semester.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 1:10 p.m.