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The Writing: What do you wish you had learned in your first writing class?

The school year’s getting started and I’m busy culling together a syllabus for my introduction to creative writing class at NYU. I took this question to Twitter earlier this month and was inspired by all the answers (and tips!) others gave.

What about you? What do you wish you had learned in your first writing class? If you’ve never taken one, what would you hope to learn?

Answer below. I’ll be here for the next 45 minutes!

Image: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters (1565). Oil on wood. In the foreground of this painting is a group of people sharing a meal and resting under a mature tree. Next to them, some wheat is tied at the top and standing in cones. Still the rest is laid across the ground around the group in small piles, over which two figures are tying them into cones. The wheat stands gold, getting cut down from here to the middle distance. One sees a path through the field walking toward a background in the upper left corner of green grasses and houses. And then, in the fog, the land reaching water.

What I wish I had learned: anything, anything, about what it would be like to publish a first book. It was so difficult to find any information, outside of the people I was privileged to know from my time in NYC, what a fair deal looked like. I had no idea what the difference between types of royalties were, what the author questionnaire was supposed to be about, and how to talk about my writing without feeling like a complete sell-out.