Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Too Dumb for Words

by Charlotte Hinger

Janet Hutchings, the editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, asked me to create a blog post for their on-line blog. Her guests blog about suspense, short stories and the mystery-fiction scene. I was delighted to have the opportunity. Here's the link to my post: 

The Bliss of Ignorance (by Charlotte Hinger) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN

Last Monday, Thomas Kies, had a great post about how he conducts his writing class. I can't applaud him enough. What a great approach. His classes are kind and helpful. He does his best to help his students achieve their goals. It says the world about the kind of man he is. 

My post was about my lack of writing education when I began my career. I was literally self-taught. Yet, in some ways I was better off because I never heard the discouraging words so many newcomers have to endure.

After a friend of mine read my post she said she wished she had never taken graduate courses in creative writing. That, and a critique group convinced her she had no business ever submitting a thing. She's just now getting her first novel published after picking herself up years later and working up the courage to try again.  

Another friend told me her writing classes leached all creativity from her years ago. She will never write now. 

This just burns me up! What in the world is going on? I didn't have access to either liberal arts colleges or writing groups in the little Western Kansas prairie town I lived in. I learned all the publication processes from books and magazines. What a luxury to learn without pressure. 

I attended my first writing group as a guest of a friend in another state. I had just finished Come Spring, a historical novel, which was later published by Simon and Schuster. I was in awe of the cultured well-dressed attendees. Yet, by the evening's end, I decided it was the meanest group of women I had ever come across. They absolutely slaughtered the work of the only one there who was writing a novel.

How could that poor timid little soul take that week after week? That's the real story of what soured me toward writing groups. I was glad I didn't have any part of my manuscript with me. I would have been expected to read it and probably would never have submitted my work after the group "helped me."

Again, what in the world is going on?

 I can't abide cruelty in any form. It's especially egregious when it comes to creativity. It doesn't take much to blow the flame out of candles. 

Three cheers for Thomas Kies. If you haven't read his post, do so. It a model example of the right way to teach a difficult subject.


Sybil Johnson said...

Loved the article you wrote for the EQMM blog. I, too, am largely self taught. I checked tons of writing books out of the library and started writing my mystery. After a while, I decided to take a class or two. Both were online. Both were with teachers who were very supportive and pointed me in the right direction. (Kris Neri through UCLA extension and Miki G. Hayden through a Writers Digest online class.)

Thomas Kies said...

Thank you for the kind words, Charlotte!!