Why Study Creative Writing?

by Norman Leonard

Consider:

Story A

You stand on the precipice of an important decision. Advice from family and friends weighs heavily. Fears kick. Anxieties stir. You make your decision, and it’s this: practicality.

You endure years of higher education, studying something “practical,” and you earn a degree that lands you a “practical” career. All of the practicality conditions you to exist without really living.

You never really fail at much; you never really take risks either. Eventually you die, and your headstone reads as follows: “Here Lies So-and-So… meh…”

Story B

You stand on the precipice of an important decision. Advice from family and friends weighs heavily. Fears kick. Anxieties stir. You make your decision, and it’s this: creativity. Specifically, Creative Writing.

You luxuriate in higher education. You explore and experiment. You wonder and imagine. You learn to see things. Objects and details that were never there before materialize. You learn to look within and beyond and in between. The smile wrinkles on the checkout lady, the pigeon-toed gait of a Little Leaguer, the missing canine of a Golden Retriever — you see stories and mysteries and answers everywhere. The chaotic world becomes something you can order, a tale you can tell. Words become levers and weapons, potions and medicines. You earn a degree in Creative Writing, and despite your Uncle Wally’s insistence that “Only so many people can be astronauts or artists,” you discover that you’re just fine. The world needs people who can communicate — businesses need their stories told, technologies need creative problem solving, communities need vision — and the trained writer possesses these skills in spades.

Yes, you struggle. Yes, you fail. As a writer, you understand that small failures lead to soul-strengthening victories. And the victories come. Probably not in the way you expect, which is exactly what you expect because you know that life is the best storyteller there is. And you’re grateful for this fact. Eventually you die, and your headstone reads as follows: “Here Lies So-and-So. A writer who lived a life worth writing about.”

Self-aware Epilogue

Are there hyperboles in the stories above? Sure. Exaggeration? Of course. Are there truths, though? Yes. On this matter, I’ll speak personally. I studied Creative Writing as an undergrad and a graduate, and it’s made my life a rich one. I’m not talking about publications or script options or agents or managers or big fancy literary prizes. Certainly, I’ve had experiences with some of these things, and I’m grateful for them, but my Creative Writing riches have been more intangible. I met my wife fifteen years ago. I courted her by writing. I wrote to her and for her, and to this day, I write about her. It helped lead to my marriage, and it helps sustain it. We have two kids. Bedtime stories are epic. Their points of view find ways into my writing, and in that process, I learn and learn and learn, and this world — our world — is never dull. Because I write, friends and family have asked me to perform wedding ceremonies; to co-write toasts and speeches; to give eulogies. Being part of these milestones is a seemingly never-ending privilege. I often imagine what will come next, and as a Creative Writer, my imagination knows this one capital-T truth — it’s gonna be wonderful.

All of this to say, if you feel called to study creative writing, answer the call. I promise, it’ll make a helluva story.

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Laguna College of Art and Design Launches Creative Writing BFA and Low-Residency MFA Programs

Laguna Beach, CA (October 7, 2016) – Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced the launch of two new degree programs in Creative Writing: a Bachelor of Fine Arts to launch in Fall 2017 and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts to launch in Summer 2017.

LCAD’s BFA and MFA programs in Creative Writing are chaired by screenwriter, children’s book author, and publisher, Norm Leonard.

Norm Leonard, Chair of LCAD Creative Writing

Norm Leonard, Chair of LCAD Creative Writing

Leonard earned his MFA in Film: Screenwriting from Chapman University and has toured the film festival circuit around the world with his short films. “I’m excited to assist students and faculty to create rich, craft-driven explorations of writing that are as playful as they are earnest,” he said. “Creative Writing at LCAD prepares students to be more than an echo; it prepares them to be a voice. Echoes are lost to the ether of white noise, but voices get an audience and craft the narrative that shapes our culture, defines our time, and enriches our human condition.”

The BFA and the terminal MFA programs feature emphases in Fiction, Non-fiction, and Poetry. Students are welcome to explore a myriad of specialized areas of study from graphic novels to podcasting, from memoir to Gonzo journalism, from song lyrics to prosimetra, and everything in between, tangential to, and overlapping.

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