3. do you think workshops are ultimately bullshit but a good way to give a writer a living? Can a good man or great man make a workshop worth something it was not intended to be worth?

ah, the last gig put me off the undergrad creative writing workshop. it’s bullshit in the sense that most college kids look at creative writing skewed like some kind of hobby, horseback riding maybe or bowling or cake decoration. and so many academics treat workshops like it’s a retail chore, a gym class in pro forma craftsmanship. sestina tea circle for young ladies, “oh i love your delicate precious phrasing of the delicious morsel of thot.”

there’s a minority of youngsters who put a lot into the workshop and get a lot out of it, but they’re maybe 20%. so, yes, if that kind of ratio works for you, and you can make it work for the students, it’s a good gig.

you can begin with that possibility and work it into a working proposition.

but—at what price? so many writers become academics for the paycheck, and in the bargain trade away their organic connection to real (instead of theoretical) writing subjects, their actual relationship to actual community(s), trade away their functional politix in town for the insufficient petty politix of the institution, trading away their public citizenship as writers for a private sinecure in the ivory (merely academic) tower. the culture of the university is to divorce theory from practice, divorce young ideals of students from the activity on ordinary streets of town, and pretend that that kind of elitism protects the intellectual artist when it actually makes them more irrelevant. students (especially those supporting a debt burden of tens of thousands of dollars) will ask, what does this shit mean in real life? what does this mean off-campus? the answer a lot of academics give is, you can use it to get into grad school—which is the ultimate bullshit pyramid scheme (the professor gets his, the kid gets a student debt burden).

Advertisements