General · Writing

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner and Education

I was reading The Art of Fiction yesterday and I stopped at this line:

Though the literary dabbler may write a fine story now and then, the true writer has become, as it is for the pianist, second nature. Ordinarily this means university education, with courses in the writing of fiction, with courses in the writing of fiction, and poetry as well.

Is he saying you can’t write well all the time without a college education? One where you take creative writing classes. If they do manage a well-written story, they wrote it by accident? Seriously?

I am having a hard time believing that’s what he is saying.

I went to college; I sat in on a creative writing class, but couldn’t finish the semester because of my course load. Not that the class gave me any insight; it didn’t. Pretty sure that’s because everyone else was there to fill a writing credit requirement, not because they wanted to tell stories, and that changed how the teacher taught the class. That made it less useful for me and a bit of a disappointment.

So I don’t think I have the type of education he’s talking about. I decided not to get one because:

1) I figured I could learn everything I needed to without majoring in English or writing or something similar.

2) I wanted a degree that would lead to a good job while I figured out the writing bit.

I don’t think that makes me a bad writer or one lacking in technique. Okay, maybe the technique part, but practice will cure that.

I am pretty sure I am missing something about these two lines. But what?