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After reviewing your background in starting to write science fiction, I was wondering if your college education was critical to your success as a writer.

-- Submitted Anonymously

OSC REPLIES: - June 7, 2005

It's hard to say whether my college education was "critical" to my "success," since both terms are subject to argument <grin>. My college education INCLUDED my experience as a playwright, with my college plays produced on various stages at BYU, and that was obviously my best training as a writer. But would I have learned the same things had I had a different educational path? Who can tell?

I also benefitted greatly from the general education courses they forced me to take. I resisted them at the time - I was a THEATRE student, for heaven's sake, why did I need to take geology? But in the years since college, I've drawn far more often on the knowledge I gained in those classes than on my classes in makeup and costuming ...

My degree in English is a different matter. I loved my time in class and I learned a lot; but I also had to unlearn a bit afterward, too. I think my MA in English was not crucial, if only because I already had sold several novels and had them published, along with dozens of short stories, before I went back to school to get that degree. Ditto with my year of PhD work at Notre Dame.

But most of my education was my own reading before and after college, and that was even MORE crucial. Ultimately, all writers have to be self-educated, because there IS no effective program of studies for writers who wish to communicate with the general public (though I'm trying to start one at Southern Virginia University this fall).

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