Last month we published Key Issues in Creative Writing edited by Dianne Donnelly and Graeme Harper and so we asked them to explain a little about where the idea for the book came from and how it contributes to the field of creative writing pedagogy.
A book emerges from any number of places – but often the starting point comes from a simple conversation. We probably – at least it’s likely! — began Key Issues in Creative Writing when talking about some other Creative Writing idea or ideas. Certainly, by the time we began to talk to potential authors at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Washington DC in 2011 we had a reasonable sense of the book but, as yet, no definite form or shape. There was a need even then for more conversation and, naturally, coffee!
One of the important things we discussed early in the book’s evolution was having a range of voices — those who had played a role in thinking about Creative Writing in higher education, but from different points of view, based on different experiences at different times and for different reasons. We wanted an international mix as well – not the entire spectrum of potential world voices but at least some reference to alternate national perspectives.
Of course, all this conversation, all this talking about “who”, was a mere whisper compared to time spent talking about “what”!
“Key” issues in Creative Writing – what exactly are the “key” issues, and from what point of view, and to whom, are they key? The point was largely that if Creative Writing had grown and grown stronger in and around universities and colleges then what did those teaching and writing in those places think were key issues and how had those key issues impacted on their own ways of working – whether teaching or writing? In the large part, the book began to look for issues relating to the pedagogies of Creative Writing, with an interest also in the emergence of Creative Writing research in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia where Creative Writing research has grown, particularly in relation to the growth of doctoral study in Creative Writing. An interest in both teaching and research pointed us toward a wider concept of “knowledge” in Creative Writing and this then informed much of the formative work that took the Keys Issues in Creative Writing from a conversation to a brief to authors and, finally, to a completed manuscript.
We’ve made the point in the introduction to the book, as well as in its conclusion, that we are in no sense saying that these are the only issues, or even the only key issues, in the Creative Writing. In fact, we emphasize that for us the book’s success will in some ways be measured by how many readers begin to think about what they personally consider to be key issues, whether these issues are similar to those explored by the writers in the book or very different from them. Using the word “key” was our way of encouraging others to define for themselves what might or might not be most significant to them in the pursuit of Creative Writing knowledge — knowledge about teaching and about the practice of Creative Writing itself. We hope the book will open a dialogue that continues to explore and interrogate the key issues in Creative Writing.
For more information on the New Writing Viewpoints series please see our website. Dianne and Graeme’s other books in the series can be seen below.