New Yorker Review Makes Writing Classes Look Fun, Useless
Other insights from the review are equally discouraging: for example, that "university creative-writing courses situate writers in the world that most of their readers inhabit -- the world of mass higher education and the white-collar workplace." This makes writing programs sound like a make-work schemes for aesthetically-inclined redundant laborers, and stirs suspicion that many of us currently struggling as scribes have been unfortunately discouraged from more useful lives as upholsterers or surveyors. We often think so, anyway.
Menand does supply fun anecdotes about the trade ("[John Gardner's] preferred pedagogical venue was the cocktail party, where he would station himself in the kitchen, near the ice trays, and consume vodka by the bottle while holding forth to the gathered disciples"), and he looks back fondly on workshops, saying "I don't think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make, and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make." Maybe writing programs, then, are the information-age equivalent of shop class. If so, tuition should be adjusted to reflect this.