Monday, November 24, 2008

Write, Or Else!

It is said often in books on writing that a writer must inevitably write...and that, every day. It is something that must be practiced on a regular basis in order for it to be of any good and for anyone to actually want to read it.
I thought I was pretty good at this expression when I first signed up for my creative writing class at Valencia Community College in the early summer of 2006. I had, after all, stunned my English Comp teacher the previous semester with a paper I'd written entitled "The Truth About Flying." Jill Sebacher, the professor's name, had wanted to submit it to the school paper, the Phoenix, but, unfortunately, it was not accepted. Still, my ego soared high and I walked into the new class feeling confident, cocky, and ready to be recognized as the next great writer of the 21st century.
Reality slapped me in the face so hard that it took weeks to get over the sting of the pain. I stunk.
I spent the next couple of months re-learning how to write, especially creatively. The teacher, like a Marine bootcamp instructor, verbally tore us up and crushed us down, drilling into our heads that a writer must "show" and not "tell." We were challenged about point of view, the absolute necessity of conflict, character development, the individual roles of protagonists, antagonists, static, and block characters. And "don't forget to employ the five senses in your work!" Then one sweet day, after all of the humiliation, we saw the tiny sprout of something good coming out of our pieces. It was a small sign of muscular definition after weeks of torturous exercise.
I learned valuable information in that class. It stretched me. It made me realize that there was so much more to writing than I had ever imagined.
I won't forget what the teacher told us towards the end of the class. "God is going to get you if you don't write."
And so, with that weighty exhortation hanging over my head, I offer you this short rambling.
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