So, in the first part of this topic I discussed why teachers shouldn’t really be limiting the writing ability of creative writing students. Here is another topic that I feel needs to get addressed while we are critiquing the English college curriculum.
Alright, so it has been argued that many people go to college just to get the degree, but that it really doesn’t prepare you for the real world. I guess, in some ways that’s true, but I definitely think it gives you the opportunity to prepare for that real world through the offering of internships and through a good college curriculum. As far as us Creative Writers go, how does college prepare us? The question I always received when people knew I was a creative writing major is “What are you going to do with that?” And it’s true, what do many people do with a creative writing degree? Well, there is always publishing poetry, short stories, or maybe even that novel. However, therein lies the problem with the education, it revolves around publishing. I was very lucky in many regards that I started taking my writing seriously at a high school level. When people asked me the question above I would respond with, “Well, I’m going to get my novel published. I already have it written.” People were so impressed by that and many of my fraternity brothers said I was “10,000 steps ahead of other Creative Writing majors.” And, I probably was, but anyone can do that, they just need to put the time in to get that done. But, getting to my point, my experience in publishing has caused me to look upon the college curriculum with a new perspective.
I think that in the English Education system at the college level there should be an offered class that teaches the people in the major all the ins and outs publishing. There is so much to learn! I honestly did so much research in order to publish my book and I still feel like I’m running around with my head cut off. What this class would do is talk about every aspect of publishing: book specs, trim size, to-dos, Independent Book Publishing Association, Publisher’s Weekly. There is so much info that you could put into a class. In fact, you could probably have two classes, one a beginning class going through the basics of what all is publishing and your different types of publishing options: vanity presses, indie presses, POD, or traditional publishing. And then you could have another course, a more advanced one that has a project of actually getting a work published by the end of the class. You would utilize your previous course knowledge and then implement it with querying your stories out, building your press kits, etc. Or, you could have a “virtual” simulation or a project where you put together your business plan, a marketing plan, and a timeline of implementation just so that when you do decide to take that step and publish something later on in life you have a blue print, you have done it before, and you’ve been pretty much “taken by the hand” throughout the whole process.
With this kind of info at least at their fingertips I think it’d encourage many more students to really get out there and write! Writing isn’t about jamming out a novel in a day, it’s about persistence. It took 6 years for me to get my first novel to where I want it to be. Although these courses will not help the motivation factor, it will definitely help benefit them with just a deeper knowledge of the publishing industry. I feel as though this would benefit many many English students who don’t really know how to take that next step into utilizing that English major that they acquired. Or, even if they didn’t want to publish something, they can take this knowledge to try to get jobs at publishing companies and have a job that directly relates to their major (which is something hard to find for many students nowadays like I said before).
If any of you reading this are pursuing something in the English Major what do you think about including some elective publishing classes? What other ideas can you think of that would help other English majors feel more prepared after college? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!