Mrs. Axe is having a slight infestation of ants back at the ole’ homestead, and to use her own words, they are biting the crap out of her. Fortunately, they aren’t fire ants or she would be in even more pain than she already is. Because of the way my warped mind worked, the whole situ gave me a delightful idea for a story, but that wasn’t tonight’s topic of conversation.
No, this topic came to me as I deleted yet another random invite from a writing magazine, to come join a writing seminar (for a hefty fee, of course). As with most unsolicited advertisements, this one promised sharper imagery, better characterization, instant sales, longer orgasms, and all for the low, low price of $19.99. I pretty much ashcan these as soon as they hit the inbox, ’cause I don’t believe the secrets to being a better writer are something you can merely pay to learn. But the longer I think about it….
I took a creative writing course during my last year in college. This would be getting on twenty years ago, so those manuscripts have since vanished into the antiquity of memory. (Actually, they might have survived until two years ago, when a flood destroyed all my school texts.) I remember the basic plots but the writing was, no doubt, absolutely atrocious. I remember some of the critiques I got and they were quite caustic. The point is, I wonder if I took anything away from that class. I remember more about my own crappy writing than anything they taught me.
I’ve read a handful of books about writing, I have a subscription to The Writer, which is a decent mag. But I honestly think I have learned more by reading other fiction (not stuff on how to write fiction) and getting a wide swath of critiques, than from all the academic and scholarly direction I’ve covered. I think that exposure has been more constructive and made my writing better.
(Muse: Better than what?)
Anyone else have that experience? Has anyone benefited greatly from a structured class or academic-type environment, that improved their writing? How so? Please explain – maybe I’m missing something.
In the meantime, anyone know a surefire method of getting rid of ants? I’m this close to flying home and exterminating the little fuckers, one stomp at a time. As I do, Mrs. Axe can fold her hands next to her head and sigh in dreamy admiration … hero to the rescue, and all that.