Posted by: felinegroovy | February 18, 2008

Becoming a Writer

Excerpts from an online article, ‘When Everyone’s an Author’  published by the Australian (2008 News Limited).  All chunks are direct quotes from the article:

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

“Birch says that in spite of its pulling power, creative writing is under-resourced at the University of Melbourne. One of his subjects, auto-fictions, is the most popular of dozens offered by the university’s school of culture and communication. Yet because of a voluntary redundancy program, writing staff for this year have been reduced by half, from 10 to five, he says. “One of the reasons behind that is that creative writing is not taken seriously enough as a discipline,” Birch says wearily. In an article published in late 2006 in The Australian, UTS’s Dale agreed that “in many Australian universities, creative writing programs have been tolerated because of their cash-cow status and they are still undervalued pedagogically”. When he speaks to Review, Dale is more circumspect, but confirms that “we are still sort of fighting a battle for creative practice to be recognised”.

One of the more exotic courses offered by the University of Adelaide is a postgraduate certificate in food writing, complete with a field trip to a market or winery. It’s a highly specialised program, taking only 15 students. Even so, Jose says this represents a tripling of demand since the course was introduced a year ago.

From next year at the University of Melbourne, for the first time creative writing students won’t have to study it in concert with a literature or cultural studies subject, according to Birch.

At the University of Wollongong, literature sits high on the agenda for writing students, says lecturer Wearne. In fact, he reckons “there is more literature than writing in our (creative arts) degree. I believe that you can write too much, but you can never read too much.”

Wearne is also a believer in elitism. This year Wollongong will accept only about 35 undergraduates into its bachelor of creative arts course. Before they are accepted, these students must meet a marks threshold, undergo an interview and show a portfolio of work.

TERRI-ANNE White couldn’t stand the waste. In 2005, the director of the University of Western Australia Press launched a new writing series, sourcing fiction from postgraduate writing programs across Australia. So far, seven fiction and one nonfiction book have been published, i


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