Why writing can’t be taught.

02/06/2012 at 3:44 am (Hypatia of Alexandria, Writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Is there a high school, a college, an online “university” that does not offer a course in creative writing? Perhaps, but if you want to be a writer, you’re not going there. Courses in “creative” writing light a candle in your mind. You believe, you hope, someone can teach you to write. In some ways, they can. Sort of. They offer the tools of grammar. They speak of style and “voice” and symbols. They introduce you to those who’ve written and gotten noticed for their efforts. They evaluate and compare them. (A hopeless task to me, a disservice to the work, but that’s me. As all people are different in their similarities, so too are all writers. As an example taken only from myself… how do I compare Flow Down Like Silver, an historical novel about Hypatia of Alexandria, with Houdini Heart. Houdini Heart is magical realism, it’s horror. How do these compare?) They provide you with a platform to share your work. You listen to the work of others.

When you accept your degree, are you now a writer?

I’ve often been asked how to write. I have no answer but this: “Sit down and write.” Oh, I almost forgot. “Read what you consider the best. Emulate them. Do this long enough and there will come a day when you’ll find yourself writing in words coming from somewhere inside YOU.”

Albert Huffstickler, a Texan and a poet, once said, “My identity comes and goes. That part of me that doesn’t know who it is is where the writing comes from. Over that part of me, I have pasted a thin veneer called, The Poet. It is not what I am. It is what I do. I use words to describe what is going on in that part of me that doesn’t know who it is. That part is sometimes a cauldron and sometimes a very still place, like a deep lake and sometimes it is more like a wind. It is what I am before I was and what I will be when I am no longer. Left alone, I live with the truth that I don’t know who I am or what I am until the next thing appears to be written. I don’t know how to change this. If I could make that part of me that is constantly in flux into something measured and identifiable, then I would no longer write. I write out of the not-knowing-who-I-am. This is what I am. I am that-which-does-not-know-what-it-is. I am process. I am poetry.”

And that, profoundly and beautifully expressed, is the essence of writing. Or painting. Or music. Or or or. It’s what an artist IS. Their work. And it can’t be taught.

Sit down and write. It’s as simple as that. You don’t know who you are any more than Albert did. Or I do. No one does. Be process. Explore yourself.

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