A while back I signed up for OKcupid, a free dating site. I was heavily intoxicated at the time. I mean heavily intoxicated. This was the night that I invented a new yoga pose, called the drunken child. Its a very relaxing pose that involves passing out where ever you are, on the floor. Needles to say this account makes little to no sense, and I went back mildly sober and cleaned it up a bit. I still very rarely use it, but I've been single for a while, and after reading some blogs by Obsessions of a Workaholic about the horrors of online dating I felt inspired to give it a go. Seriously, she mostly posts about the horrors, but I am a messed up person and decided, hey if she is going on these horribly awkward dates, maybe I can find some horribly awkward dates to go on too. Worst case scenario I end up dead, slightly better case scenario I end up with decent material.
The problem with this site is that it involves talking to people, and I dont like talking to people much. I grow quickly board with email conversations and typically stop replying. So I've not had much luck with that, well at least with the horribly awkward dates. I've had a few horribly awkward email conversations, after all these guys have very little to start a conversation with, aside from my drunkish ramblings. So a common way for them to start a conversation with me (I don't start conversations...this probably goes back to the thinking horrible dates are good writing fodder and not liking people) is to ask about my writing. As those of you who have read Why? you probably know how that goes, for those of you who haven't read it, it doesn't go well.
But the other day a guy asked me a different writing question. He asked me if I went to school to be a writer. And while this didn't help him out at all, it did make me think. I actually don't think I ever replied to that email because I was so busy thinking about the question (I might be the worst online dater in the history of online dating). Now, you might be wodnering why such a simple question requires so much thought. I mean, I did take a few creative writing classes in college. But I was writing well before then. I actually turned in a poem I wrote in seventh grade for something and got an A on it, and I'm not sure if that says more about the University of Georgia Public School System or my seventh grade poetry. I don't like poetry. The classes definitively helped, but what did they teach me?
Well, they taught me the definition of some useful terms that help me sound smart, like "Show don't tell" or like "plot" or "rising action" They taught me how to critique and how to handle critiques because we critiqued one another work. They helped me understand the value of having friends who are also creative, and it helped me develop thick skin. I don't necessarily believe any of those skills are mandatory to be a writer.
Helpful yes. Mandatory no. In fact there was very little I learned in those classes I couldn't have taught myself by going to writers groups and reading books on writing. But then again I don't know I would have ever sought out a writers group without having been in a college class about writing. But then again, if someone told me they wanted to take a few classes on writing I don't think I would try to talk them out of it.
Here's the thing. Some people don't have alot of confidence in their own ability. I don't always have confidence, but I very rarely let that show. Other people have tons of confidence.But if your one of those people without confidence in your writing and a piece of paper saying you have a certification in it or you have studied it or etc will give you the confidence you need to go out there and say "Hey I'm a writer too." you should do it.
Writing isn't something you have to study in a classroom (although perhaps you should study by reading at least one book) but it is something you have to do. I'm more apt to agree with someone who says they are a writer, who writes every single day, than someone who never writes but has an MFA in writing. So I guess my answer is, school is fun, and helpful, but, you get out of it what you put into it. And it doesn't make you a writer. Now I am off to make more people feel useless when I stop emailing them out of the blue.
p.s. If you know any single guys it would make my grandparents really happy if I started dating. Even if they are really bad, then I can just write about them.
p.p.s If you judge me, please do so behind my back. My confidence is really just a mask, or something.