Saturday, 11 August 2012
It's not teaching, it's learning - Anne Rooney
I'm not really of the belief that you can teach creative writing, but I do think you can encourage people to learn and help them to develop their skills and ideas. What I hadn't anticipated when I started - and it's now six weeks into the eight-week term - is how much I would learn from them.
They bring not only their own wonderful ideas for stories, their voices, their styles and their questions, but also their very different lives and experiences. They are wonderful people. They shine like jewels, sparkling with enthusiasm and insight. Some have a lot of experience of creative writing already and produce quite breathtaking work. Some are new to it and their experiments, though not always successful, are always interesting.
The programme is great, because they have one-to-one supervision and lectures from published, professional authors. Brian Keaney is the other supervisor, and we invite writers of other genres to come as guest lecturers. None of us is a professional teacher of creative writing - we all make a living from writing. That makes it very different from the teaching they get in their home universities.
It has been hard work - there have been 13-hour days and coming home to a house with no food in it. But it has never been exhausting as the students radiate energy. They feed my inspiration and creativity as much as (I hope) I nurture theirs. I shall be very sorry to see them go, but hope they have learned a lot and expect to see at least some of them in publishers' lists in the not-too-distant future.