So, in two weeks I will have officially finished my university course. A few weeks after that, I will have a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Salford. I have a Novella on Amazon and an impressive amount of pretension stored away in this thing I call a mind.
Admittedly, neither the subject matter, nor the geographical location, will do much to endear me to any future employers, but I knew that when I started the course almost three years ago. Over these past few years, I have wondered why, exactly, I was part of this so-called education, when I had always believed that literary skill, (a talent I am certain has managed to elude my desperate, often drunken grasps at its tail feathers), was not something that could be taught.
Oddly enough, I have enjoyed the Creative Writing part of the course, however meagre that has actually been, though there are issues with it. For example, ‘writing’, caught as it is in those parenthesis, is not something that can be actually taught. What they do teach you are the ‘laws’ of writing, they teach you to create loose paragraphs of technically perfect prose although they cannot teach how to create narratives, nor characters, nor even how to successfully market such things if you do manage to stumble across one you feel isn’t too terrible.
But anyway here, such as they are, are my pros and cons for taking a course of this kind, when you could be doing something more useful to society. Such as Computer Sciences, Law or even goddamn Drama.
– You are exposed to new ideas – Admittedly, these are ideas which you could easily find yourself, if you knew where to look for them! I had never heard of Reality Hunger (David Shields) nor Pale Fire (Nabokov), until one of my tutor’s told me about them.
– You are surrounded by (fairly) like-minded individuals – Typically, Creative Writing comprises of a more varied selection than almost any other. Writing is something which draws people from all walks of life though, if they are enrolled on such a course, they are typically just beginning to write, whether it is as narcissistic as their memoirs, or they have only recently achieved a level of life in which they are able to sacrifice a few hours a day at university. Either way, some of the people I have met are fascinating, or are developing as writers so that, one day, I’ll be able to milk some of them for contacts.
– You don’t need to work – Essentially, I have spent the last three years supposedly ‘thinking’. Admittedly, I only really started to properly question what I was being told and what the course wants me to be during the last year, but at least it has meant I didn’t need to get a job!
– People don’t want prose – Whilst they can teach you how to write fairly amazing prose, (though there are a few people on my course (myself included) who haven’t seemed to grasp this), it is useless without narrative and character, the two things which people really enjoy. George R.R. Martin does not use witty metaphor, nor even particularly lengthy descriptions, but people enjoy reading him, God knows I do!
– There will always be someone better than you – I have made a few friends over the past few years, and I know for a fact that at least one will become a world-renowned novelist and one will become an amazing script writer, one will become some form of modern-day John Braine whilst another can work horror into a text in the way that Lovecraft could lose you in psychological metaphor.
– You don’t need to work – If you live like I have, on the bare minimum of your student loan, so that you can still afford to live over the summer holidays, you cannot help but lose a sense of reality. I don’t really know what it is like to be up at half six in the morning, to rush through an early breakfast and be on the train by half seven. Well, I do, but I don’t know what it is like to work an eight hour shift after it!
This is, obviously, just a very basic view of my opinions about the course and you should expect some more to head your way when I have the time to write them more in-depth.