The writing process through the mincer
I have mentioned previously no doubt that I would really like to write a book. I probably have no talent, I certainly have no ideas.
Several years ago I joined a creative writing evening class, an idea I had toyed with for years. I had imagined being taught the secrets of success; of being praised for my prose; of realising that I really had a gift that I should develop. Then I came down with a bump.
The class was held in a boys' school about 20 minutes from my home. the room was old and drafty and the chairs were bendy. They had obvioulsy been purchased on the advise of some ergonomically minded person and they were averagely comfortable, as school chairs go, but they flexed when the sittee rested back in them, which for me was fatal as I spent a great deal of time stretching backwards, just because I could, therefore often missing a point the tutor was making, or drifting off when a 'classmate' was asking a searching question or reading their eloquent text.
Being a winter semester, it was dark and generally cold; it rained a lot, so was not particularly conducive to oiling the thought processes as we st shivering in our coats with damp ankles from puddle sodden jeans and leaky boots.
I am ashamed to say I can't recall the tutor's name; she obviously wasn't particulary memorable. But I do recall she was a woman, about the same age as me, and she had been in the writing business for some time, probably writing for a newspaper. She had had several books published. Children's books in the main plus a number of romances with 'Mills & Boon' like titles and covers in pink. I do remember that one novel had the word rose or roses in the title and it wasn't a history book. I beleive this book was self-published and available on-line. I had an inkling from that point on that I was not going to enjoy the class.
I know I have written to a friend about some of the inmates and hopefully I saved the email. Ah yes, here it is, I wonder how much I am going to change, nothing I think, I'll just sit and cringe as I wade embarassingly through it.
"Also, last Wednesday, I started my Creative Writing evening class. It was a particularly uninspiring evening to begin with; the weather was cold and wet and the classroom depressingly familiar, although the chairs were ergonomically designed and bouncy. There are 12 of us in the class, nine women and three men plus the lecturer, Judy, who seems confident and helpful, if a little airy fairy. She has had several novels published plus two children's books and numerous short stories for magazines.
My fellow students comprise a variety of characters, as one would expect from a creative writing course. My name recall is abysmal so I have given several students’ pen names. By the door sat Mrs Giggler, a mumbling ex-teacher who I would not recognise in the street as her face was buried in an oversized hat. At the back were three early childhood teachers, one of whom was decked out in several shades of green with accompanying glitter; a cross between a Romany gypsy and a woman from a harem, ready to perform the dance of the seven veils; she was just weird.
The men were an interesting trio. Next to me sat Mr jittery. He was outwardly distressed at the ratio of women to men, while the man opposite me was the class Mr Know-It-All; challenging most of what was suggested by the lecturer and generally being obnoxious and negative. And as for me, well I was trying to be Mrs Invisible.
We were asked to write a short, descriptive piece about eyes. The first to read his effort was Mr Jittery. He used the phrase ‘tanzanite eyes’ which no-one understood. (Tanzanite is, apparently a blue stone from Tanzania). This one’s too clever for his own good I thought, and I was probably not alone. The piece went on for ages, or so it seemed; likewise the next two or three, descriptively mentioning eyes before meandering off into the boring wilderness of descriptions of family and loved ones. During this period I was becoming increasingly concerned.
My paltry effort comprised several sentences; more words had been crossed out than actually made it to the finished piece, and every word was dragged from me painfully. Sometimes I can write about anything, as you well know, but not last Wednesday when I felt I could not even have described what I was there for, had I been asked. I was loath to read my sad little piece out so avoided Judy’s gaze for as long as possible; drawing flowers and 3-D boxes in my margins, as is my way, and becoming extremely interested in the texture of the desk. Eventually I became the focus of her attention, I had nowhere to hide. As it turned out, I think it must have come as some relief that my piece was so short; the length probably appreciated more than the content. Interestingly, Mr Know-It-All refused to read his offering,
I wonder if he actually wrote anything at all.
For homework we have been given an 800 word challenge: to write about a room. I have decided to describe my office as it feels as though it is where I spend most of my life. So far I am up to 1100 words but once I start to cull I am sure I will be back down to about 60. It is a really dull subject although I have a lot of clutter to annotate. Descriptively it just sounds false. Oh well another day before panic sets in."
Well, in hindsight that is a bit dull in some places and over flowery in others. No hint of a writer there. Time for lunch methinks.
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