Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Community Writing Classes and Having a Master of Arts in English

When I first moved to the Indianapolis area and didn't know anyone, I thought the best course of action would be to get involved in some writer's communities, which I did. I have now taken four courses through the Indiana Writer's Center, and I wouldn't say it's been a bad experience by any means. Certainly the teachers are very qualified. The IWC is a great group of people!

So what's the problem?

I have a Master of Arts in English. I was a college professor of composition for four years. I read constantly. I analyze constantly. In short, I know how to write.


My Identity As a Writer

When I attend these community writing classes, I feel sometimes like I have to defend my identity as a writer, which is really a backward thing. I am confident, I am comfortable, I know I am a writer, and I understand that the reason I've never been anywhere as a writer is that I haven't given it a good, real try yet. All of that makes sense to me...so why do I feel the need to identify myself in a classroom full of other people who write with varying degrees of seriousness and dedication?

The point is, I know what I'm doing. I know how to do it. I have it under control. It's just when I have these panic attacks, these moments of serious "low" where I think, for some reason, I have to subscribe to some unknown stranger's expertise to help me.

And then two months later when I'm feeling really great about my writing, I'm sitting in this classroom wondering "Why am I here?"

So it's not a matter of needing to "learn" something, it's a matter of needing to "do" something. Next time I want to take a writing class I need to instead take a day off and fix my own problems. Every time I've done that so far, it's actually worked pretty well.