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Amber Paulen

Creative Writing

Way back when I began writing, I was absolutely determined to learn it by myself. And I’m quite a stubborn and willful person, which means I’ve learned a lot. I went about it by trial and error, using myself and a few friends as a sounding board. Way in the beginning, my main instructor was Henry Miller — all his novels, and quotes like:

“Dive deep and never come up!” should be the motto for all who hunger to create in words. For only in the tranquil depths is it granted us to see and hear, to move and be.

I understood his urgency, his passion for the neatness of stories, the love of rhythms of words, the expansiveness of language. And all the while Henry Miller was praising the chaos of life, the wonder of its unpredictability. Henry Miller was a great teacher as he insisted on throwing the student into life and through life will come art, art that serves the student and life first and foremost.

And in the same vein of embracing life and all it throws your way: it’s good to change your mind. It’s good when a strong source of pride (autodidaticism) gets tossed away. Here I am, for the first time in my life, wanting to formally study writing. The funny thing is, admitting it is not as difficult as I imagined it would have been all those years ago when the idea of studying writing sounded like a death sentence.

I’ve been having an email conversation with a reader about this very thing. He mentioned the very good point about how as a creative writing student you have to be sure that the words and story put down on the page are your own. I think that if I would have taken up Creative Writing in my early 20s that wouldn’t have been the case. Or I’m sure about it. But now, I’m ready. I’ve been dreaming of writing workshops, critiques, and a writing community. If things remain a little quiet around here, it’s because I’m applying to school.


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