The Daily Journal, Sunday, July 21

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: How to Learn to Write
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Quotes of the Day

“A lot of novelists start late—Conrad, Pirandello, even Mark Twain. When you’re young, chess is all right, and music and poetry. But novel-writing is something else. It has to be learned, but it can’t be taught. This bunkum and stinkum of college creative writing courses! The academics don’t know that the only thing you can do for someone who wants to write is to buy him a typewriter.” (Thanks to Bob Beckley for reminding me of this quote.)

“You either talk about writing, or you stay home and write.” David Sedaris

“[W]hen all is said and done, it’s about the story, not the writing.” Terry Odell

Topic: How to Learn to Write

In a recent blog post, surprisingly, Dean Wesley Smith touted the MA/MFA program at Western Colorado University as an “Amazing Learning Chance.”

Out of curiosity, I went looking for the program. (If you’re interested, Here’s the URL.)

At first glance, it seemed that Dean was right. The program appears to be an amazing learning opportunity. Mostly because the Publishing segment (one year) is taught by Kevin J. Anderson. And according to Dean’s post, the MFA writing program is taught by faculty who are “real writers.”

One of those is Candace Nadon, Ph.D. In a bio she presumably wrote, she listed only one “highlight” of her career: “…a recent publication in a magazine edited by my dissertation advisor….” Well, all right then.

Still, in light of Dean’s recommendation, I thought maybe it was an old bio, so I conducted a quick Amazon search. Nothing by Candace.

The other two faculty members listed were Fran Wilde, MFA and Richard Wilber, Ed.D.

Fran Wilde won a Nebula award for her debut novel, Updraft, in 2015. According to my Amazon search, she’s also written seven other novels since then.

Dr. Wilber’s “career highlights include noting with pride that a number of my students have found success in fiction or nonfiction writing.” He does also have 6 novels listed on Amazon under the name “Rick Wilber.”

So of a faculty of three in the MFA program, two are actually published novelists, albeit with only 14 novels between them.

The cost for the MFA (33 credit hours x $700) is $23,100. I couldn’t find the exact cost of the Publishing year, but a conservative approximation would be an additional $7700.

So an MFA with the Publishing addition would run just under $31,000.00.

Well, that’s considerably steep for my pocketbook. If I had 33 grand lying around, I’d make a down payment on a new pickup. Besides, frankly, I’m not sure I could learn very much from a faculty that’s written and published so little.

Of course, a writer should never stop learning or seeking out valid sources of information that will improve his craft. Which is why I continually tout my own two chosen writing craft (and writing business) instructors, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Between them, Dean and Kris have written and published hundreds of novels and thousands of short stories. Both are bestsellers in more than one genre. And both have served as the editors of several magazines. They’ve lived on both sides of the mean streets.

Additionally, Kris is one of the most decorated names of all time in science fiction as both a writer and an editor.

So I’m just saying, on balance I’d rather not spend over $30k to MAYBE learn something from two writers who are not as far along the road as I am and (for all I know) might not yet have shaken off the myths that plague most writers.

Of course, I won’t get to add MFA after my name. Shrug.

But I CAN take online workshops from two proven, trusted sources, workshops that are focused tightly down on specific craft or business topics.

I can even apply to attend the WMG Publishing Masters Class in Las Vegas ($750 plus hotel).

I can read the works of truly masterful stage-four writers whose work I admire, and on and on.

And most importantly, I can engage in the ultimate learning process: practice.

In other words, I can follow the same advice I give every one who wants to be a writer and asks me how to do that:

Stay home and write.

Rolled out late at 4 this morning. No fiction writing yesterday and no learning, hence no update.

Today will be filled with visits and otherwise Doing Nothing (probably). If I accomplish anything professional, I’ll provide an update tomorrow.

I inadvertently got an excellent story title from a humorous church newsletter excerpt that a correspondent sent me via email: Electric Girdles (the original writer meant “electric griddles”). As titles cannot be copyrighted, feel free to run with it if it appeals to you. (grin)

Talk with you tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Great Challenges” at

See “On Producing My Own Audiobook” at

See “In Which Winnie The Pooh Helped My Writing” at I agree strongly with the final sentence of her post.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 790 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 790

Writing of ()

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 7399
Total fiction words for the year………… 358737
Total nonfiction words for the month… 24270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 208470
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 567207

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Sunday, July 21”

  1. Re: producing your own audio book (of interest); very interesting & informative. It made me think of John Erickson, author of the Hank the Cow Dog empire. No one would publish his book, so he started his own publishing company (many years ago). Then no one would produce books on tape (now you can see how many years ago), so he set up a studio in his barn & did everything himself. It really is an empire now and all because he wouldn’t take no for an answer. And also because Hank and the gang are hilarious.
    I’m excited to hear about your new publishing partner. I sort of figured you had that set up already. Great move.
    I’m writing, a little slower for a few more days (big grant application at work) then should wrap up the novel pretty quick.

    • Great story, Karen. Just think, if John Erickson hadn’t trusted and believed in himself none of that would have happened.

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