Sunday, November 25, 2007

See You At Star Bucks Professor

A few years back, I decide to take a writing class at a local community college. At this point in my life I was already having mild success getting paid as a writer, but I was at work on a novel and I wanted workshop it to see what others thought.

I listened for several classes as the teacher rambled on and on about his accomplishments (he had published a poem (I think it was actually a poem in one of those books you have to buy to be published in))...that was it. He was qualified to teach a class in writing because he had a PhD.

When it came time to turn in actual writing of our own, I turned in a self contained fragment of my book; I thought it was great stuff. A week later I got the story back with the following: "Seems like a novel. Grade, C." No explaination of why it was a "C." No mention of what didn't work in the story. Nothing.

I wasn't bitter, but I wasn't about to spend a whole semester in school, and not be taken seriously. I emailed the professor to let him know I was dropping the class and why. I gave him suggestions on how to make it better. I told him quite passionately how a creative writing class should go. He wrote back telling me until I too had a PhD then I was not qualified to tell him how to teach a creative writing class.

We emailed each other back and forth; each time he basically rebuted that his PhD made him better than me. On his last email he explained that one day, when I had given up on my dreams of being a writer, I would be serving him coffee at Star Bucks.

At this writing, to my knowledge, this profession has yet to publish anything aside from that one poem. It seems these days he's the one who has given up on his dream of being a writer, and to him I say today, "Bruce, I'll see you at Star Bucks...and I take my coffee black."


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I once had to fork over some money to be published in a book nobody reads. I guess that means I should teach a class.

mikko78 said...

I did the vanity publishing thing, too. Now all I need is a PhD in something. I hear Hypnotherapy is making a comeback. Anyway, I enjoy your blog and McSweeney's dispatches. Hopefully it will inspire me to give up my dream of being a failed, disillusioned writer, and publish something I don't have to pay for. Until then, this is the kind of crap you can expect from me.