The Writing Studies Creative Writing Track feels like a dystopian novel

Writing studies majors in the creative track voice their frustration about the lack of classes the administration provides.

With period one of class registration ending yesterday February 25 and period 2 of registration beginning today February 26, many students are now faced with the question of whether to register for a class on another campus or wait another year to enter the class they couldn’t register for here at UWT. This is a question students face, since period two allows UW students to register for cross-campus classes in case they need to complete a requirement. Some students do not have to face this issue for their major has a variety of options that still fall into their required classes. Sadly, this isn’t the case for Writing Studies students in the Creative Track.  

Just like other majors, Writing Studies students in the Creative Track have a certain number of credits they need to meet to obtain their degree. Currently, creative writers like me are expected to take 60 credits, which is five credits less than students in the Technical Communication Track. Sounds easy since there’s so many writing and literature classes throughout the year, right? WRONG, it is actually like “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” combined with “The Martian.” Every year when the Creative Track students have to register for classes, they find a lack of required creative and literature electives to help them build their skills, making it feel like a desert, trying to survive the school year by meeting our major’s expectations with the little to no resources. 

Not only does registration for the major feel like a desert, it also feels like a mini version of the “Hunger Games” in my opinion since we’re all competing against each other to enter specific classes that meet the requirements for the degree. It doesn’t help that these classes, specifically the creative writing ones, have a small number of spaces. Sometimes it feels like the administration knows that we’re competing against each other to enter specific classes but sits back and watches the ensuing chaos for entertainment.  

This feeling of fellow writers being at each other’s’ necks to enter classes rings very true this year due to the heavy lack of 400 creative classes and elective writing classes within the major, along with non-American literature classes. All the 400 creative writing classes this year are only offered during spring quarter, while in past years they were offered throughout the year. As for creative writing classes, we only have had four this year: “Historical Fiction” and “Spoken Word” during the winter quarter, and this coming spring quarter “Food Writing for Cultural Exploration” along with “Nature Writing.” In past years we have had more elective classes offered throughout the school year like “Eco-Poetry”, “Writing Popular Fiction,” and “Writing through Comics.” Even then, the number of creative writing classes we have are few which leaves students wanting more since we’re able to complete these classes in just two years.

The situation this year has left very few options for students to choose from that may not even fit their work or school schedules. This change in scheduling has messed up many Creative Track students who were going to graduate earlier and only needed one more 400 level class, while frustrating other students who had planned to space out their advanced creative writing classes.  

This curriculum reorganization was done in late October somewhere up in the administrative ladder, according to the update professor Ever Jones sent to students via email late autumn quarter. This last-minute massive change happened when we were all a month into the school year. Before we received the update many students like me were worried since we didn’t see any of the advanced creative writing classes on the schedule, making it feel like the administration sees the Writing Studies Creative Track as nothing of importance. 

Ledger staff typing up a screenplay on a typewriter. Photo by Cameron Berrens.

But wait, there’s more! Even before then, the Creative Track has been treated in such a way by the administration. Last year, the requirements of the Creative Track literature electives changed without the knowledge of many students. A year ago, we were told we needed to complete one American literature class and one non-American literature class. Now, the system demands us to take two non-American literature class instead. This change wasn’t announced in any official email, nor did the administration team substituting for the SIAS advisors at the time know about this change. It also didn’t help that UW’s Aduit Degree system, known as DARS, isn’t up to date with the requirement changes–the very system we’re told to use to help us decide the next classes we’ll take. 

This change of requirements messed with many students’ graduation dates, since many who were about to graduate last year didn’t know what requirements they had to follow–the old or the new. One of these students that was affected by such confusion was UWT senior Isabella Pettis-Infante. She was informed she was missing a non-American literature class, causing her to extend her graduation date to this year instead of last year due to the lack of communication. 

“I would say that organizationally I have been negatively affected by my major. I have been stressed by emailing back and forth trying?to be able to make sure I will graduate,” Pettis-Infante said. “Eventually this kind of worry takes its toll, and it can be very disheartening and frustrating. Academically I have to overwork myself and take on lots of classes because I don’t know when they might be offered again.” 

When Pettis-Infante says certain classes will not be offered again, she means the lack of required literature classes the school offers. When we Writing Studies majors register for classes, we find at times that the school doesn’t provide many options for us to choose from. This has been an issue even before this year, according to UWT Alumni of class 2021 RW. She tells The Ledger that she noticed that certain literature classes weren’t offered during the normal school year, but summer quarter only.  

“For example, when I was an undergraduate student, I wanted to take a course on children’s literature and noticed a pattern where it was only offered during the summer quarter which I would normally take off,” said RW. “I was able to take the class as I decided to reorganize my schedule, but I realized that most students can’t change their schedules to enter a specific class outside of the normal school year, making it inconvenient for them.”  

Indeed, it is a inconvenience if certain classes aren’t offered, especially classes on a specific genre that no other classes focus on. Such a class would be beneficial for writers who wish to write for children, and by attending such a class that studies it they would be able to learn the fundamental elements within such a writing style.  

This coming spring and summer quarter we only have one non-American classes available. This is infuriating since these classes have a high chance of not fitting into students’ schedules, like UWT Alumni RW mentioned. For a school that claims to be for commuters, UWT doesn’t provide a lot of options for student writers to choose from that can fit in their schedule.  

In a mini survey I created, Writing Studies and non-Writing Studies students request the administration to not only provide more than one required literature class per quarter (specifically one in the morning and one in either the afternoon or evening), they also request more creative writing classes offered. Of the 13 anonymous students who completed the survey, all of them agreed that they’d like to see more creative writing elective classes offered at UWT.  

Different sub-genres of books that students wish to see as elective options: autobiography in comic form, self-publishing, fantasy fiction (novel), self-help, realistic fiction novel, sci-fi novel, investigative journalism in novel form, manga. Photo by Cameron Berrens.

When asked what type of elective writing classes they’d like to see offered, the most common suggestions were “World Building,” “Character Development/Building” and “Novel Writing.” One could argue that these three suggestions could easily be combined into one class, since in a novel one must build a world and have clear character development. From experience in the creative writing classes, many students like me wish to write novels, which makes us wish to learn how to do world and character building like Neil Gaiman or MXTX to make our stories feel real.  

Other elective writing classes students suggested fall into subgenres within the major creative writing classes UWT already offers. This would work perfectly since the elective classes we have right now, like Historical Fiction, are subgenres within the Fiction category. Students suggested “Sci-Fi,” “Memoir writing,” “Narrative Poetry,” “Mystery writing,” “Children and Young Adult writing,” and “Lyric writing.” 

For now, we sadly have to live through the current treatment. Deep down we know that we may not see new creative writing classes next year, since many majors already have their schedules prepared and it takes time to create a whole new course. That doesn’t mean we may not see changes in a few years, but we may see the current elective ones being offered more, along with the non-American literature. In the end, all we can do is hope that the administration hears us and ends this dystopian story the Creative Track in Writing Studies has been trapped in for many years.