Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm an Iowa Boy

My family moved from Iowa to Nebraska when I was eight and to Washington state when I was eleven. It wasn't until many, many years later that I found out the University of Iowa is famous for its writers' program. (I learned a lot at the University of Washington, thanks especially to Lois Hudson, a writer (and teacher) who agreed to work with me one on one. And earlier in the seminary, thanks to Lois Selmar. God bless them both.)

I like what the University of Iowa's program has to say about teaching and learning writing. I remember reading that one member in that program said you can learn it all on your own but it takes longer. I think that's true. A lot of writing is "self-taught." Not all.

Here's what the Iowa program points out:

Though we agree in part with the popular insistence that writing cannot be taught, we exist and proceed on the assumption that talent can be developed, and we see our possibilities and limitations as a school in that light. If one can "learn" to play the violin or to paint, one can "learn" to write, though no processes of externally induced training can ensure that one will do it well. Accordingly, the fact that the Workshop can claim as alumni nationally and internationally prominent poets, novelists, and short story writers is, we believe, more the result of what they brought here than of what they gained from us.

Just keep writing.

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