Now that the Bute Park courses have become well established, lets make a comparison between these courses and one of the many rip-off creative writing courses aiming to make a killing from those eager to see their work published. The Curtis Brown literary agency is one I know well, having been represented by them for a number of years. We parted on good terms, the people I met there were very pleasant, although they hadn’t managed to find me any work. Nevertheless I was never under any illusion that the agency had any urgent priorities other than the making of money.
Curtis Brown is presently advertising a course whose subject is very familiar to me: a three month Writing for Children course. Taught by Tony Bradman, author of Dilly the Dinosaur, the course costs a whopping £1600. Even allowing for a couple of one-to-one tutorials and two day events, that works out at around £100 a week.
Let me now remind you of the cost of the Bute Park courses: £15 per week.
I cannot vouch for the teaching ability of Tony Bradman and am happy to leave judgement of our respective abilities as writers to others. But I do not believe anyone can justify charging such an amount for creative writing tuition. If Curtis Brown are looking for the next big thing in children’s fiction (Tony Bradman admits that this is his holy grail as a tutor), then they certainly will not find anybody from the ranks of the low-paid or unemployed – those growing sectors of the population whose voices are being heard less and less frequently across all areas of culture. Although I should add that, like those horrendously elitist private schools, CB have tried to justify themselves by awarding a scholarship to one lucky punter.
I’m hoping to soon upload some of the work being produced at Bute Park, with evidence of the revision process that students have undertaken. I’m certainly impressed by the quality of the writing I’ve seen so far. If I help anybody become a published writer that will be a bonus, but personally I am motivated simply by the pleasure of seeing students develop their craft, whatever their aspirations. We live in a world of predators seeking any opportunity to make a buck, a get-rich-quick society which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Creative writing, at its best, is a wonderfully civilising practice and I believe in keeping the teaching of it the same.
Thimble Monkey Superstar, my latest novel for children, can be found here.