January 14, 2009

...So Why Do You Think You Want to Be a Writer...


In both of the Charles Baxter writing books I've read (and I'm still on the prowl for Bring the Devil to His Knees, by the way) drew this correlation between writing and therapy. He did make a distinction between fiction writing and therapeutic writing, but the idea of writing as therapy is true, and interesting.

Which makes me wonder, does this explosion of writing programs, and the idea that more and more people are writing, while fewer people are reading...are we a nation in need of therapy? And if so, what's the cause?

I suppose it would be easy to blame G.W. is the cause, and I suppose that's my answer. I haven't formulated this thought out all the way, but my guess this boom of writing has something to do with this culture of fear our out-going president spawned. Because to me, most therapy comes from some kind of fear deep down, and if fear becomes as omnipresent as it is, then it makes sense for people to pick up the pen and try to deal with their problems.

Of course, this could all be bullshit because I don't know when exactly the exponential growth in writers started. And there might be other causes, but this idea of writing as therapy and the uptick of people wanting to write sure seems to belong together to me. Anyway, what do you think? Am I full of it?

viva el mustache


Anonymous said...

From AWP's site:



Anonymous said...

Keeping a journal is part of the theraputic process. The uptick in writing could be journaling (sp.?) run amok.

Or it could be that our exhibitionist/narcissistic tendencies need a new outlet after buying that 72" plasma flat screen and the diamond-encrusted 24" rims for the 'Slade.

Just a guess.

The Drewid

Jorge said...

I think it was a chance thing. Some schools took chances on having writing programs so they could reel in big name writers to their faculty. Slowly, more places got programs. Then, teachers start, for whatever reason, telling students they can write. Now that we're in an era where people go to college more and we have a "learning period" in life where we can fuck up more than, say, when it was necessary to go to work right after high school, if you got that far in school, more people try writing because some silly 101 teacher said, "Hey, you have a good voice." Damn 101 teachers. Then you start taking writing classes, realize that, a lot of them anyway, are pass/fail style where you just do your 'best' and you get an A, and decide, "What the hell, I'll go to an MFA so that way I'll have a masters degree." Then they graduate from the MFA, get a job teaching at some shitty school, try to continue writing because they've convinced themselves that it's their calling, and eventually become permanent comp teachers.
That was horribly deprecating. And I don't really believe that. But it's a theory. And I think it's got some merit to it.
Maybe the desk-top publishing and self publishing market's growth has had something to do with it. Or maybe there was always an abundance of people who could write, but like I said above, now that we don't have to go work the farm right after 8th grade or high school, we can discover that.
The thing about writing is that no matter how many writers there are out there, there are at least that many readers. It's an interesting industry in that way.