Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

So You Think You Can Write? Creative Writing at Kenyon

Kate Lindsay
August 22, 2013

Do you get the reference? This is me appealing to the youths. But sometimes the creative writing scene at Kenyon does feel a bit like a reality TV show. If you throw a hundred good writers into a pit with three ruthless professors, only about ten or so will emerge, clutching a manuscript with ink on their faces. If you want to take a creative writing class at Kenyon, you’re going to have to face up to some inconvenient truths.


You may have been the best in your high school, but that means jack shit here. Deflate your ego and now deflate it some more. You’re talented, but everyone sitting at this table had just as good an application as you, if not better. You are going to be spending a lot of time this semester in very close proximity with these people, and you’ll be showing them your work at its most vulnerable. The worst thing you can do is give them reason to prey on you because you won’t stop talking about the novel you “self-published” when you were sixteen.


If you take a creative writing class, expect to get critiqued. You’d think this goes without saying, but you’ll be surprised at how many people argue, cry, or get stroppy and give everyone the silent treatment after you dared to suggest that their protagonist should have a different name. Nobody will have sympathy for your tears if you shed them over a harsh critique because, ah-durrr, that’s what you signed up for.


Don’t bring your novel to class. Too many people, instead of starting something new, bring in something unfinished that they had been working on all through high school. If you do this, not only does it hold you back from learning and exploring new things, but you’ll also find it makes you reluctant to receive suggestions because you’ve been attached to this thing since before you started getting periods.


Ultimately, you will hate yourself. Not because of the classes--the classes are great! I’ve been lucky to have wonderful professors who I continue to sit and talk to whenever I see them on Middle Path or in Wiggle Ground, and who I know I’ll be turning to in the future when I need help with my writing. No, no, no. It’s when the classes are over that you slowly curl up into a ball of self-loathing. What happened to the witticisms and ideas that you were churning out in class? Where did your enthusiasm and inspiration go? After I finished up my Advanced Fiction Writing class this past semester, I told myself that I was going to continue working on my piece in hopes of turning it into something possibly eventually publishable. But the moment I left the comforts of the classroom and started to write at home, I lost all my drive. I hated what I wrote but I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. When I tried to add on to it, it just felt forced. I know these classes are so beneficial, and have completely changed and improved my writing--I’ll just have to get back to you later with some evidence.