Well, I started my first creative writing class last night. I didn’t know what to expect and how to feel. I arrived at the classroom early of course, as I often do when I’m nervous and trying to make sure that I absolutely don’t get lost (I often get lost). Others were scattered around, standing nervously in a broken line, eyes fixated on the closed classroom door. A few forced smiles were exchanged, as we weren’t sure whether to introduce ourselves in the cold echoey hall or whether we should wait until the class commenced and the inevitable ice-breaker activities began. A tall man begrudgingly asked the group if we knew where a water cooler was. No one responded. One blonde woman with a strict ponytail huddled in the corner swearing deeply into her phone.
The classroom door creaked open and we all padded into the room, glancing around at each other, self-consciously picking a place to sit at the very large, round table. I like round tables: I studied each face and tried to guess whether each person would be a good writer or not. What led them to this class, was it the same reason as me? I felt like we were all already vulnerable. We each wanted to do something creative and fulfilling. We each wanted to pour ourselves, our experiences, our feelings onto a page and make it work.
The course leader is a kind woman. I could tell by the way she spoke to us softly, reassuring us that we didn’t have to share any pieces of writing that we didn’t want to share. This course is for us, and we can take what we want from it. We can show her everything or nothing. She treated us like tiny, broken souls. As she spoke I wondered how many previous students had cried in her class. I wondered how many had shared stories that others didn’t want to hear. She clutched her own published book in her hands but barely referenced it. I made a note to find it and read it and maybe take a peak at her own tiny, broken soul.
We each scrawled our names on folded bits of paper and placed them in front of us, looking around at what others had written and wondering how familiar the names and faces would be in ten weeks. We took turns explaining our situations and what led us to the class. Unhappy with current jobs, feeling creative without an outlet, stories swimming around in our heads. One woman who works in healthcare said that she didn’t want to think about the sickness and sorrow that surrounded her. She wanted to write about different things. The course leader replied, “You must have great experiences to talk about.”
“But I don’t want to.”
During the break I purchased a soy chai latte that tasted like a marshmallow (note: never order that again). When we returned to our seats, we were asked to write a story without stopping to edit. Over-editing my own work before it has barely begun is my problem. I had explained that to the class. I didn’t know how to write creatively and freely anymore.
“Often people forget the freedom they had when writing stories as children. They start to get bogged down with what they should be doing, and how it’s sounding, and whether it’s right before they’ve even written a first draft. Forget about that. Don’t stop.”
By the time I had finished, I had crossed out words and added new phrases here and there. I’m still learning.
This is what I wrote in the fifteen minutes we were given:
The rain looked almost silver as it peppered the damp grass. Calm and still it sat on the bright green blades until my feet beat down as I jogged. I broke through the steady rhythm of the rain with my own rhythm – thud, thud, thud. The sun was starting to break through the clouds and the rain lessened. The drops that clung to the muddy shrubbery shone and mesmerised. The road was a deep black and snaked around the bend beyond my site. My breath started to become quicker and more shallow until I stopped, sweaty hands on knees to catch my breath. Staring straight at the ground a tiny snail slithered slowly but purposefully towards the edge of the road. It’s own silver trail blended and blurred with the rain. I’m not sure I would have noticed it had I kept on running. It was so tiny and delicate. A drop of sweat fell from my forehead to the ground, soaking into the grass below. The rain stopped and the sun kept on shining. I stood up and walked slowly home.
I picked the theme ‘silver rain’ from the list we were given. I like writing about natural occurences and being outdoors. One of my favourite things is walking through forests and bushland. To me, the surroundings are like another character, shifting and changing.
I will write a post about each of my creative writing classes (once a week) and the writing I produce from it. I’m hoping to see some improvement throughout the ten weeks!