Friday, October 1, 2010

Enrol me? ...

Interesting times. I had an exciting phone call last week. There will be further discussions next week. I will fill you in once there is an outcome - whichever way it goes.

Went to an Auckland Branch NZSA meeting last night. Was interested to find there were three speakers lined up to discuss their respective creative writing courses: Jack Ross of Massey University which is starting up a new Masters of Creative Writing next year (will be available extramurally which is cool), Brian Morris of the NZ Institute of Business Studies which offers a range of writing courses and Paul Mountfort from AUT's Master of Creative Writing. I was disappointed to find neither of the masters courses included children's or YA writing, although when asked Mr Mountfort did not rule out the possibility of including writers for children on the course. I did not get the chance to ask Mr Ross. I applied to the AUT masters course a few years ago and was advised they weren't able to cater to Children's writers at that point. No matter. These courses are not essential to learn the craft of writing and become published. You cannot teach talent and a diploma or degree will not make a publisher accept your work. Writers do need to share their work before submission though, and their work will benefit from the identification and weeding out of obvious weaknesses. There are basic elements of writing that must be learned: basic grammar, technique, and issues of voice, plotting, tense, POV, character development, setting, tone and dialogue, etc... And I believe it is important to have a group of like minded-individuals with whom you can discuss specifics, generalities, industry gossip and opportunities and a course can be a great place to meet these people. And sometimes all you need to move forward is a little confidence. A course can provide some or all of these things. Will completing the course take you closer to publication? It is impossible to say. A boat load of reading, a boat load of writing and a boat load of submissions will probably give you the same chances. I find myself doing a fair amount of writing teaching these days. I've learnt a lot through doing and passing on what I have learned has forced me to clarify the mechanics of how I write. I've achieved some of the things the course might have given me through alternative channels. Folks, do what feels right for you. I'm off to write a book.

ps I believe there will be more speakers discussing other courses at the next Auckland NZSA meeting in November.


Dr Paul Mountfort said...

Melinda, writers of children's literature and young adult fiction are more than welcome on the AUT MCW. The general content of the course works as well for these genres as for others, the main thing is finding an appropriate mentor.

Any past exclusion of writers in these areas no longer pertains. Check out our welcome page:

There you can read: "As with similar programmes worldwide, we recognise that any category of writing – not just 'high literature' but biography, travel writing, children's stories, narrative journalism, even academic writing – can be creative."

You're right such programmes don't mint out of every candidate a freshly published author, but people do seem to gain a lot from the focus and assistance the masterclasses, mentoring and peer review components bring to their writing,

Best wishes
Dr Paul Mountfort
Chair, AUT Centre for Creative Writing

Melinda Szymanik said...

Well folks I think that quote pretty much sums it up. Readers, I leave it in your capable hands to decide whether you would feel welcome or not