“This will probably get some folks riled up… but heck, who can afford to pay so much for something that they can never hope to use to earn enough money to pay off their college debts?”
The following quote is from an Open Letter signed by 190 Writing educators in protest of the Poets & Writers 2012 ranking of Creative Writing Programs. If this is not some sort of confession that an MFA or PhD level education in how to write stories is not directly comparable to Adult classes in pot-holder weaving then I do not know what else to call it. I bring this up as the proliferation of programs to teach creative writing far exceeds the development of programs to teach people how to do the work of fixing old buildings, carpentry, roofing, plumbing, masonry, electrical, etc. Will an infrastructure stimulus reach these folks?
“In economic times like these, there is no immediate correspondence between any degree and employment. This is particularly true of the MFA in creative writing and PhD in English with a creative dissertation. While we work hard to help our graduates find jobs, it is essential to understand that creative writing for the vast majority is not a profession. Some writers earn their living as teachers, but others are lawyers, full-time homemakers, doctors, editors, business owners, sales clerks, and mechanics. No applicant should consider pursuing a creative writing degree assuming the credential itself leads to an academic job. And no applicant should put her or himself in financial peril in order to pursue the degree.”
Back when I was fresh in NYC and thought that I wanted to be known as a writer, I knew most of the staff at Poets & Writers. They were all good people, full of idealistic enthusiasm; and they worked hard and seriously to promote the literary arts. I imagine that they still do work, hard and seriously. We need literature and the arts in our culture, but education programs that enable folks to go into serious levels of debt for a professed unemployable hobby is not quite right. After a few years of dealing with the bullshit of the writer’s scene, I decided to fix old buildings as a career and write on my own time. Being able to write was more important to me than being known as a writer, and having money in the pocket and able to pay the bills meant even more. These days when I meet young folks who tell me they are writers or painters or artists, I dig further to find out what is their real job.
“Of course it’s going to rile some people; that’s why I invited you to send something”