It's amazing, now looking back, that I completed my first novel without ever stepping foot into an upper-level English or Creative Writing class. After two years of reading, writing, and learning English and literature, I feel a whole new appreciation for the study of my craft.
I received as Associates in Science in 2006, and that was no big deal to me. After all, I had only completed my basic classes. I wanted more. My desire to finish college, despite my lack of financing, stayed with me until in 2010 I went back with the blessing of some long, lost VA financing. It's a God thing. I am still studying English with a minor in History (to help me understand the context of literature), and now I realize how much I needed the education to further my writing.
Let's be honest, reading always helps us write better. We learn from the best, presumably, the published (this I say lightly because I realize that there are many talented people who have not been discovered yet). We learn structure, plot, character analysis, and other general writing techniques from reading, often without even realizing it. As people, we generally tend to search out and mimic patterns; I suppose that's how I wrote my first novel without any formal training. There is nothing wrong with this tactic because some people are just brilliant, talented. Not saying that I fall into that category but some do. With that being said, there is nothing but good that can come from studying your craft, whether that be on your own or formally. The training is meant to enhance the talent/gift/drive that is already resting in your hearts.
I started my second novel, Realm of Desire, immediately after I finished my first. I'm still working on it in between school assignments, and I have to tell you that it sounds like a different writer is writing the later stuff all because of everything I've been learning. We evolve.
I encourage you, as a serious writer, to search out helpful books, workshops, and techniques from other writers. We need to learn from each other. Also, read about publishers and follow agents' blogs. They are very helpful.
I agree with Sir Philip Sidney when he said in his "An Apology for Poetry" :
Orator fit, Poeta nascitur
[The orator is made, the poet is born.]
We were born writers, but we are not born at our fullest potential. While perfection is impossible, the pursuit of it is necessary to become the best we can be. Horace had it right when he said in Art of Poetry:
Mediocribus esse poetis,
Non Dii, non homines, nor concessere Columnae
[Mediocre poets are not endured by gods, men, or booksellers]
Cheers to the aspiration and conquering of becoming great writers.
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