What have we learned?
My monthly blog at SF Novelists last Wednesday, "Jumping Ship," was about my decision to leave graduate school with a master's (actually two) instead of completing my Ph.D. And it made me curious about education and writers. So this question is a callout to the writers, both members and not: how has your education affected (or not affected) your writing?
Me, my undergrad degree is in archaeology and folklore, and my masters . . es . . . how do you pluralize that? . . . will be in cultural anthropology and folklore. So my studies have taught me nothing at all about writing, but a great deal regarding what to write about. Last year I wrote up "A Cultural Fantasy Manifesto," outlining some of the ways this plays out in my fiction, regarding worldbuilding and its role in the story. Academic life has also made me far more aware of underlying issues, like how all of my dark fairy tale retellings hinge on the monstrous feminine, or how I need to make certain the historical figures in my Onyx Court books don't get robbed of agency. I don't write stories driven by theory, but something in the back of my brain is always checking them for unintended implications.
I'm curious to hear from people who followed a path like mine, people who majored in creative writing and liked it or didn't, people who majored in business administration and then went off to write about werewolf sex that had no connection whatsoever -- I know there's a huge spectrum out there. And for the teenagers we have reading this comm, who are pondering whether to go to college and what to major in when they get there, it might be useful to see the choices other people have made.