Friday, November 22, 2013

Learning the Craft from the best: Ray Bradbury

All those who follow this blog know I'm an uneducated writer. By this I mean I majored in an unrelated area to Literature/Creative Writing/English. I do, however, believe in the power of education, and I do my best to learn from wherever I can. Hence my Creative Writing classes at my local college, and my stalking of writers that have the knowledge I crave. No body has complained so far. I guess we writers understand the need for an intensive study of personality...

Anyway, I've debated for a long time the pros and cons of going back to college and getting a Creative Writing Masters. On one side, I'm a mom of two and don't really have the kind of time I had at say, sixteen. I also don't know how much my career would benefit from it. I know I would be a better writer, but I don't think a diploma will get me any closer to a Big-Six-contract.

Anyhow, I know among you are those who belong to either side of this metaphorical fence. I would love to get your thoughts. Is it worth the time and effort? Or are the other ways (like informal classes and mentoring programs) to get the same knowledge just as effective?

Anywhoo, on a related note... A few days ago, Tim Waggoner (an excellent, successful speculative fiction writer, and Creative Writing teacher) shared on the internet the most fascinating story. It is a short story by the master Ray Bradbury, and it has no characters. At all. At least not in any way we are familiar.

THERE WILL COME SOFT RAIN is clearly Experimental Fiction, but unlike many other experimental pieces, it is logical, easy to follow, and it makes sense. Bradbury's rich vocabulary and expert weaving abilities conveys a complex story where there's no one left to tell it. A true delight for readers and writers alike.

Here, I share with you a version read by Burgess Meredith. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.


Yolanda Renee said...

I read a lot of Ray Bradbury as a youngster. Great piece!

As for a degree in writing. I would love one, just because I love learning and would get more degrees than I need just because! LOL
You have to decide what you want to do with it - learning the craft is done by doing it - participating in groups and critiquing. Just write, take the classes you enjoy and write, write, write! Do what makes you happy!

Lexa Cain said...

It's a hard decision on whether or not to go back to school. Personally, wild horses couldn't drive me back there. I value my freedom too much. But I also do my best to get writing tips from web-sources. There's a lot of good info out there. I'd say if money's not an issue, and if you enjoy school, you should go for it. MFA writers are excellent (although they may still miss the publishing boat - learning doesn't necessarily beat talent and luck). Have a great weekend! :-)

Julie Luek said...

Here's my thoughts on this because, like you, I've actually given this idea a lot of thought. I don't think an MFA is essential for good writing. I think there are so many other ways to feed our knowledge and creativity that don't necessitate a lot of money or time. Having said that, I love the process of learning and already have a couple degrees. If I went back for an MFA it would be for the sheer joy of learning and reveling in a subject I am passionate about.

Michael Pierce said...

I'd like to go back and get an MFA, but like you, it's hard to justify the time and it won't necessarily gt you were you want to go. There are quite a few famous authors that don't have English degrees. If they can go it, then why can't I. So I think I'll just keep writing and reading, and not go back.

Georgina Morales said...

Thanks to all for your comments. I'm surprised to see how many of us have given this same topic so much thought. I guess you all are right. If I ever decide to go back to school, I'll do it simply for the pleasure of learning. But more and more I'm getting convinced that grades and scholarly pressure sounds better than it really is. =)

Mina Lobo said...

I'd love to get a master's in creative writing, but before that (or maybe concurrently???) I'd like to get a master's in Gothic studies, in Scotland (this it TOTALLY a legit degree program, and dang - SCOTLAND!!!)

Ahem. I think, Gina, that having solid educational opportunities with knowledgeable and generous teachers can happen in various settings, whether through a formal degree program or writer's workshops which don't lead to any particular credentials. The thing is to find folks from whom you can learn and that you're able to make the most of whichever program(s) you choose. Do you have any local colleges which may offer continuing ed programs? That might be a way to dip your toes into the college scene. Whatever you decide, good luck with it!

Chris Fries said...

Bradbury was a master. That is an amazing story. And Burgess Meredith? Classic actor with a great voice! "The Penguin", Twilight Zones, "Search", "Rocky" -- a lot of unique, distinctive roles. Just like Bradbury had unique, distinctive stories. A great paring.

As for a MFA? I have a BSEE, so my writing knowledge has also been picked up on the side. I'd love to learn more about the history, craft, and finer details of writing, but there's no way I have the time, and I just can't see it as anywhere near cost-effective. At this point in my life, it's a luxury with limited payback as far as I can see,.

But you're the only one who can determine it it's the right choice for you -- if you have any inclination towards teaching at some point, it's an (eventual) requirement. But other than that, it's something that only you can determine the real value of.

But I suspect that a lack of one won't prevent you from publication success. Only "not writing" is guaranteed to prevent publication success.

And Happy Thanksgiving!