I‘ve been posting stuff online, in various forums, for more than five years. A couple of years ago, shortly after graduating from USC, I realized I needed a while to be quiet. I needed some time to figure out what “being a writer” meant for me.
I’ve realized this is part of it. That the trouble with blogging is not something that concerns me anymore. Don’t take me wrong; I still want to explore the dilemma there, but more in the sense of what marketing and writing mean nowadays.
I’ve nearly completed my marketing MBA. I enrolled in Regis University when I lived, for a time, in Denver several years ago, and it’s possible to complete the program online without any of the connotations of online degrees. It’s not University of Phoenix–with no offense intended to that online institution.
There is, however, an interesting point I stick to there, and I think it applies overall. Nowadays, it’s so easy for people, online, to not only pose as experts but to become them. You get a lot of people talking very loudly in a small community, and regardless of their backgrounds, knowledge bases, and levels of expertise, people start to look to them for advice when the advice they offer is not actually all that sound.
Regis didn’t start as what it has become. It was founded more than a hundred years ago, and is a Jesuit institution. I learned during my undergraduate days that when it comes to education, those Jesuits know what they’re doing; Saint Peter’s College may not rank as a top university, but the quality of education it offers to students who seek one is extraordinary. That caveat–that students must seek it–is important. There are a lot of colleges that offer a liberal-arts template and nothing special about the educational experience.
I think that start is important nowadays when we’ve found ourselves in a situation where there are so few guarantors of quality. Take the instruction of writing, for example–and by writing, I mean forms, and not composition. The instruction of composition is an entirely other matter. A lot of programs now offer writing workshops, and some seem to allow instructors who’ve simply had a publication–even one in a literary magazine–in lieu of a master’s degree. As a writer, I feel this is problematic, simply because publication is no longer something authors achieve simply by virtue of the fact of good writing. I think it may have been, at one time. Nowadays, however, the publishing industry, at least at the corporate levels in most areas, concerns itself more with what will sell than with what is actually good.
Which is not to say the two are mutually exclusive. They are not. The Harry Potter series? Both.
But given that major, corporate publishers are contracting such characters, it’s obvious that literary quality has little to do with what gets accepted and bought for publication.
Now that I’ve earned a master’s degree in fiction, studying writing at a graduate level is something I recommend for all writers, but not for the reasons you’d think. If you want a guarantee of getting published, it’s not the way to go, but if you want to write better? Finding the right program for you will help you accomplish that goal.
Now that I’ve earned (most of) an MBA in marketing, I recommend that to all writers, as well, but with a caveat; if you earn such a degree, you’re going to realize how little sense the publishing industry makes as a business model. In my experience, knowing more about business has become invaluable.
Thing is, now that I’ve got both, now that I feel confident as a writer . . . I don’t want this to become a website where there’s more writing advice. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Lord knows there are plenty of sites with writing advice out there, but I never set out to become a writing guru. Never meant to aim at a place from which I would dispense what little wisdom I’ve acquired as I’ve myself continued to seek more.
Writing about writing?
That seems boring to me.
And yet, it also seems important.
All of which is to say, I think maybe I’ve found a more interesting dilemma to explore.