Saturday, September 17, 2011

Writing Life: Class Progress - Part One

I started a writing class.  It's only the second one I've taken in my entire life.  The first one I took at San Francisco City College when I got here seven years ago and it was pretty bad.  The instruction, if you want to call it that, was non-existent.

At the time I thought I could teach the class better even though I didn't have much writing experience.  Now I know I could teach it better and I haven't published anything.

This writing class is taught by Tony DuShane.  Check out the link there if you want to know more about him.  He's published a novel and has his own interview show, etc.  I decided to start a new novel for this class instead of working on one of my existing ones.  I have plans for them and don't want to show them to anyone right now.  I was feeling a bit cheeky about that, truth be told.  Sure, yeah!  A new class, new novel!  No problem.

However, last Tuesday I sat down at my Galaxy Tab and stared at the blank screen.  I realized I had to pull an entirely new novel out of thin air and I wasn't sure if I was up to the task.  To top it off, this novel will be critiqued so I can't write a new novel and allow it to be a major mess no one looks at.  There has to be something for people to work with and it has to be of reasonable quality so no one's time, especially mine, is wasted.  The only thing I had to work with is I decided it was going to be a haunted house story.  I knew I wanted the setting to be a huge, sprawling estate.  I had an idea for the opening sequence but no ideas for the characters, the story, or even what the house looks like.

Almost everyone else is working on novels/memoirs they've had for a while so they're all farther along than I am and (presumably) their stories are going to be more polished.  I stared at the blank screen of my Tab, place my fingers on the keyboard, and started pounding out a story.

The story isn't terrible so far.  I decided to completely go for it with this class.  If people are going to be critiquing my first draft I might as well push myself to produce something and not rely so much on the revision process before I do any polishing.  I'm uncomfortable with anybody looking at my first draft so this will be a valuable learning experience.

Tony's approach so far is spot on.  He requires that we work on our novels everyday for at least 20 minutes and that we critique our fellow students' work every week.  This is going to be a difficult thing to maintain for eight weeks but just these class requirements alone should seriously improve my writing, editing, and ability to produce quality material.

I'm going to have the first ten pages of my story reviewed during the second critique session.  I have to email everyone my draft this Monday.  I started this novel last Tuesday.  Tony asked for volunteers and once again, I just fucking went for it.  For myself, and this may not apply to other writers, I think the ability to pull a story out of thin air, write it down quickly, and make it into something good in a short period of time is a worthwhile skill to have.

Stay tuned for more on this class.

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