Friday, June 8, 2012

Writing Advice for Newbies (Education)

Some of you might want to punch me in the face for what you're about to read. If only it were possible to put a fist through your screen without trashing it. But this is one of those reality check blogs that needs to be addressed. And I feel like I should be the one to do it.

Here's my 21st century take on investing in advanced educational opportunities if you see yourself becoming a professional fiction writer.

--finish high school.

--Now the sticky part. College is expensive. Super expensive. Unless your folks are very very well off, you will be stuck with repaying huge loans. Something freelance writers and fiction writers just starting off will find impossible to pay. At the very least, consider attending a junior college first and if you wish to go on for your undergraduate, try and attend a less expensive state school. And by all means, don't major in English. Major in something that will land you a real job, like journalism, accounting, or nursing.

--Instead of attending college right away, consider gathering some precious life experience instead. Travel, write newspaper articles, blog, take photographs, work in a coal mine, steal away on a tramp steamer, join the Army, wait tables in Europe, become a prison guard, work construction, work on a fishing boat in Alaska and don't forget your dogeared copies of Jack London's, White Fang and Call Of The Wild.

--NOw here's the even sticker part. M.F.A. or what's commonly referred to as "Writing School." DO NOT GO THERE! The MFA is a useless degree. Trust me, I have one. MFA programs are rackets designed to keep old fashioned, often washed up writers who can't sell employed and to attract would-be writers who won't write another word once they've graduated and exhausted another fifty to sixty grand from their savings account. Try and make that up in terms of today's average publisher advance. Like Jim Harrison once said, MFA programs are like Pampers and Budweiser. They exist because there's a market for them.

Now what are you going to do about educating yourself to become a fiction writer?  


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