A to Z Challenge 2013

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Week Two Of Class - Almosts and Uh Oh's

This week's session in my short story class was...interesting. For starters, I arrived a few minutes early rather than stumbling in late like last week. That helped a bunch, since I don't enjoy the embarrassment I feel whenever I arrive late somewhere.

We had a writing assignment to create a bare bones story. We were supposed to write something very short that adhered to a basic framework. Somebody wants something. They are striving to obtain it. Something blocks their way. They overcome this with the help of something supernatural. Tada, The End. Note, I'm keeping this very general because my teacher asked me to not re-iterate the workings of the class. But this is the general idea of our homework.

Those of you who remember I'm a pantster, raise your hands. Can you imagine how much I struggled to plot out the story? I fought against my natural writing instincts, I wrote passages and abandoned them as either inept or not following instructions. I even wrote the entire thing before realizing that while it was a decent story, it didn't really fit the proposed exercise. I started over too many times to count. And in the end, I wasn't able to completely finish the story (though I did come extremely close). I just ran out of time, to be honest.

I will post an excerpt of this final version of my story in the next post. Then you can all point, giggle behind your hands (the ladies, that is. I'm hoping none of you men out there would giggle behind your hands), and see what happens when I am out of my comfort zone. It's not my best work, I fully admit.

The one good thing I got out of this however, was a clear understanding of why I need to do something similar to this when I am writing. While I might not want to plot everything out, I do need to answer the basic questions. Why is my character here? What do they want? What is keeping them from it? So the exercise did help me, even if I didn't quite finish it successfully.

One other thing I noticed during the class was how much it reminded me of a group meeting. The only thing missing was each of us standing up to say "Hi, my name is Eric and I'm a writer." I've never been involved in this type of atmosphere, and I honestly can't say whether I really like it or really hate it. Sometimes I feel like I talk too much, and then other times I feel like I should speak up and I don't. I have this war going on inside my head, pride fighting against my lack of self confidence. Or maybe it's the idea that what I have to say will sound incredibly idiotic, as if everyone else views the sky as blue and for some reason I'm seeing purple.

The 'Uh Oh' hit at the end of class when we had to pick workshop dates for our short stories (the ones we will be receiving direct feedback on). The teacher started the signup sheet going the other way around the circle, so of course by the time it got to me, the only spot left was to be the first one to submit. So yeah, I have to have my story ready to go by next Wednesday. I'm so glad I started messing around with this thing a month ago or I'd really be stressing. I'm still stressing a bit because I know how rough it is. It's a first draft still. And I still have the last quarter of it to write. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I should have the results on it in two weeks.

A question for you all as I wrap this up. Have you been in a writing class or something like this before? If so, how did you deal with feeling comfortable about speaking up, being a part of the discussion?


Michelle H. said...

I was never in a writing class, but I was once in a a speaking class, so perhaps that can still count for your question.

It's nerve wracking, and the "imagine the people in their underwear" bit doesn't seem to work the least little bit. The only way I felt comfortable was to allow myself to sink into the words I had written on the paper. Let them speak for me - if that makes any sense to you.

Eric said...

Michelle - You're right. The underwear bit really doesn't work for me either. I can see what you mean about sinking into the words though.