By February 11, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

In Oz, an Imbalance of Supply and Demand

Australia has the same problem we do: more people want to write than read (“When everyone’s an author,” by Rosemary Neill, The Australian). Many good quotes, so I’ll just choose this passage:

While creative writing flourishes on campus, academic reservations about the field persist, not to mention double standards. Even Wilding, who helped entrench the sub-discipline, is ambivalent about its amoeba-like growth. Recently, a former colleague teased him: “As the father of creative writing at Sydney University, do you, like the father of the atom bomb, feel remorse?”

“Yes!” he responded, only half in jest. For Wilding, whose novels include the biting satire Academia Nuts, believes the proliferation of writing courses within the academy has been “a mixed blessing”. He is concerned too much creative writing is taught outside a literary context, along with courses about media, communications or theory.

“The way you become a writer is to read books,” insists this former English professor.

Another problem, he argues, is the lack of publishing outlets for creative work produced in our halls of higher learning. “At the moment, we have all these creative writing courses and the Australia Council putting money into mentorships and writers’ centres, but there’s hardly any money going into supporting publishing. What’s the point of encouraging writers if none of the stuff’s going to come out?”

Would-be writers have an obligation to read a lot for two reasons: to become better writers, and to support the business of writing. As Alan Wearne, lecturer at the University of Wollongong puts it (and oh, how I wish my alma mater had a name half as delightful):

“I believe that you can write too much, but you can never read too much.”

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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