Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Teaching Cadets Creative Writing on Line

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Teaching Cadets Creative Writing on Line

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article reviews a successful grant proposal to develop an on line creative writing workshop for NGCSU students in the Corps of Cadets, a workshop intending both to encourage and develop in the cadets self-expression and self-knowledge.

Introduction

Last spring, the Corps of Cadets students in my British Literature survey courses found themselves the silent centers of a controversial whirlwind. The controversy stemmed from class discussions on Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King, a story based in modern day Afghanistan. From such simple questions as "does might make right?" my class went on to discuss such complex issues as the United State's apparent intention to make war with Iraq in order to keep peace.

During each of these discussions, the cadet members of the class maintained a tightlipped silence. When I pointedly asked if they were interested in contributing their views, they inevitably answered, "I can't." This inability to share their views in free intellectual discussion on military issues of interest to non-cadet members of the class led me to consider what opportunities for free self-expression our university offered in classes geared to cadets. The only clear possibility I discovered was the Leadership class within our Leadership Minor, a minor that has two tracks, one for military leadership; the other, for servant leadership. The leadership class stresses self-knowledge as well as communication skills, both of which qualities respond to the leadership mission at North Georgia College & State University, the Military College of Georgia. Both of these qualities also seem to me essential skills in creative writing; hence, I derived my interest in developing a creative writing workshop for cadets, using our university's on line technological capacity in Web CT course design.

On Line Workshop Proposal

As the leadership initiative here included grant opportunities for course development, I submitted a grant proposal for an On Line Creative Writing Workshop for the Corps of Cadets. I had always been interested in developing an on line creative writing workshop because the environment of a computer based course seemed to me to reflect both the needs and realities of creative writers. Creative writers, who "bare their souls" in written form, need a safe environment for such transparency of expression. E-mail discussions and peer reviews via the Web CT chat room function allow just such safety, an environment that gives readers as well as writers the freedom to focus not on the author but on the author's work. Also, creative writers rarely meet face to face with their editors, publishers, or even their readers. Rather, snail mail, e-mail, and telephone exchanges seem to be the common modes for submission and revision of one's creative work. Certainly these modes were the ones I used straight out of high school when I published two historical novels. I was based in Miami and never met my New York editor until after my second novel was published.

Richard Mariotti and Bruce Fife confirm this professional reality in their introductory guide How to Be a Literary Agent, "While there are advantages to working in cities with large publishing industries, it is not necessary. A literary agent can live and work anywhere in the country. All work can be conducted on the phone and through the mail. An agent in Texas can sell a manuscript from an author in Oregon to a publisher in New York almost as easily as if all three were located in the same city" (7). As agents tend to be the lynch pin for professional writers with successful careers, what is true for agents can be true for writers as well. With these ideas in mind, added to my interest in giving the cadets at our school a venue for self-expression, I proposed a Web CT Creative Writing Workshop for the Corps of Cadets, stressing in the grant proposal the following benefits:

   The workshop will foster self-awareness, self-expression, the means
   to convey one's ideas to a diverse audience, and ways to implement
   stories, metaphors, and pointed imagery to effect leadership
   communication. … 
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