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Trust Me, I’m a Book Doctor: Do You Need an Editor or a Creative Writing Course?

Trust Me Im a Book Doctor

Originally Posted On Blot the Skrip & Jar It

When I consider the sheer volume of creative writing courses, masterclasses, retreats, manuscript assessment and ‘author solutions’ services currently available to aspiring authors (for example when I can’t sleep), I am often reminded of the rapid rise of Spiritualism in the 1850s, a process that the mathematician Augustus De Morgan likened to the spread of smallpox. As I noted in my inaugural post, none of this pseudo-academic infrastructure was in place when I started writing seriously, with Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson blazing the trail at the University of East Anglia by adding a creative writing component to the MA in Modern Literature at the then School of English and American Studies (despite the marketing legend, this was the course Ian McEwan took). Now these things are everywhere; every university English department offers creative writing as a flagship course, and literary scholars are routinely passed over for chairs in favour of novelists. And if you can’t afford the fees in Higher Education there are a dizzying number of private courses available. Then there are the editorial services. These no longer simply proof-read, copy-edit and block your book; now they are ‘book doctors’ offering critiques, manuscript appraisal, mentoring, and every service you could possibly want to produce a novel, including ghost writing it for you and then prepping it for self-publication. There are some big players in the private sector getting in on the act too, including some major literary agencies, newspapers, and publishing houses. ‘Creative Writing’ – as opposed to actual writing – is a massive industry, or at least what passes for one nowadays.

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