Two years out of an MFA program in Creative Writing, I still love talking and reading about craft. And as I’ve said in previous blog posts, usually when I learn something about writing, I find I’m also learning about reading. And that was the first thing that struck me when I picked up Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses – within just the first few pages, Salesses helped me realized several biases, preferences, and assumptions that I have been bringing to the books I read without me ever realizing it. (As someone who writes book reviews all the time, this revelation was huge, and since finishing I’ve been thinking constantly about what biases I pass on in my reviews… for me, this book was invaluable for that reason alone).
But odds are, if you’re considering this book, you’re also wondering what it can teach you about craft. The answer is: a lot. Salesses draws attention to the ways in which the biases we have as readers can (and DO) limit and silence us as writers, editors, and educators. But what is so incredibly powerful about this book is that it not only points out what is wrong with the way we teach writing, but it offers actionable strategies that can help us do better. From workshop formats to writing exercises, Salesses provides an extensive list of alternatives for educators or workshop participants.
If you are a writer, student, educator, editor, or publisher, you want to read this book. Because by allowing for greater diversity in the way we write and the way we teach writing, we open our own opportunities and the broader opportunities for literature – we invite more stories, told in more ways, that can reach more people. And isn’t that the point?