14 November 2010

IS SUBJECTIVE TEACHING RIGHT?

So six weeks ago I started a nine week creative writing course. Every Thursday evening I go along and  our small group looks at different topics to do with creative writing (such as plot, character etc - when I've finished the whole course I will post a summary blog covering interesting things I've picked up).

On our first session, everyone in the group shared the different genres they are interested in writing and work they've started. When it came to my turn, I described the types of books I enjoy starting with YA. My tutor immediately said, "Oh you're not into all this vampire stuff, are you? I can't stand it." Straight away, I felt my interests were demeaned and seen as a 'lower' form of writing. And probably only because of its current popularity.

During the last session we looked at some typical plot scenarios, and ended up discussing whether new stories can be original. The tutor chose the example of vampire novels to say how these plots and stories and just re-hashed over and over.

I would certainly disagree, having just read 'Of Saints and Shadows' (Shadow Saga #1) by Christopher Golden.  This takes a different angle to the vampire theory and has some unexpected twists at the end. (A fair amount of graphic violence, but a good read!)

Now surely there are a number of different genres that could be said to be 're-hashed', such as romance or crime - a crime's committed, a detective investigates, crime is solved...

I felt that he was picking on vampire stories because of his own particular dislike for them.

Since that first session, I haven't been able to feel comfortable reading out any of my work, or even felt able to like my tutor. Even though he has said we can give him some of our own writing to critique, I don't want to, because how can I trust that his own biases won't influence his feedback...?

I'm wondering whether I'm taking it all a bit too personally (which admittedly I often do), or am I right in feeling aggrieved at my tutor for imposing his own subjective view on which genres are better than others?

Do you think that a tutor of a creative writing class should be able to
express his own personal likes and dislikes of genres,
or do you think he should remain impartial in order not to
offend his students own writing preferences.

Thoughts please!

9 comments:

Kelsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelsey said...

He should be impartial!! The point of a creative writing class is to encourage everyone's creativity. He can sure have his own opinions but he should never put down others for theirs! Why should you write what someone tells you to when the point of writing is to express yourself. How can you express yourself writing something you don't love, it wouldn't mean anything. Sorry that you have to go through this, but maybe it will make you stronger and you will find your voice and speak out in class and show him that your writing preference is not a "lower" form of writing!

Hannah Mariska said...

Thanks Kelsey! I think the world would be a very boring place if everyone liked only the same things!

cristina said...

Hi, I'm a new follower, and I completely agree with Kelsey. He should not be putting any genre down because it isn't his taste. It's supposed to be creative writing, right? the writer then decides what speaks to him/her.
I probably would feel uncomfortable sharing my work in a situation like this. Good luck , I hope that you are still able to learn and grow from the experience.

Hannah Mariska said...

hi cristina - thanks! i am definitely picking up useful ideas to think about!

do you have a blog? your profile is locked so i cant see if you do! :)

cristina said...

oh, I didn't realize it was locked, I fixed it :)

http://cristinadossantos.blogspot.com/

DanyStormborn said...

In the words of Stephen King: "Write whatever the hell you want." So what if someone doesn't like a certain genre of books, other people do. I wouldn't take his comments to heart. Write what you want to write about and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I checked out your WiP page and Camille sounds like a great story. I hope to see it on the shelves one day.

~Dany

YA reader said...

I'm a new follower and really enjoyed reading this post. I do think it's a real issue how prejudiced people can be against the YA genre. I'm often told by friends I should be reading 'classics' rather than YA but surely I should read what I want to read?

Don't let him put you off writing what you want to write!

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I agree that the focus of the class is to improve the writing, no matter what genre you decide to specialise in.

I'm a big fan of vampire/supernatural fiction, though I tire of the sheer amount of paranormal romance that has come out of the woodwork recently. There are a lot of superbly written books in that genre, but I've found that they're a minority compared to the larger amount of chaff that's been produced in order to cash in on its popularity.

Still, that becomes irrelevant when you're heading a class on creative writing. We all have personal biases, yes, but when the point is to bring out a person's creativity and hone their writing, that matters little.