Monday, 30 July 2012

Writers on the Block

I was on a writing course last week. Armed with pen and paper, I entered the small classroom. My anal retentiveness had kicked in and I realized I was twenty minutes early. But no worry, the teacher was already there and I'm the queen of useless chit-chat so the time went by quickly.

For a course that ran from ten to one each day, I expected a few older women - perhaps a couple of yummy-mummies. Nope, I was the youngest one there. The women's ages ranged from late forties to mid seventies. I suddenly felt inadequate and then a little down, I'm not far off from my forties so there wasn't that much of an age difference after all!

Expecting a room of budding or published novelists, I was surprised to hear that a couple were writing memoirs, many had an idea but not sure where to start and some just had chapters floating around, but nothing connecting them. An air of slight smugness surrounded me. I had written a few short stories and finished my first novel in draft, currently halfway through the second. Yet I haven't had the courage to get an editor to look at it. Maybe spending the week with these experienced women may help.

As the week progressed, the lecturer Jane Katims gave us exercises and prompts to get our creative juices flowing. And wow did they help. I knew my first novel needed some improvement but wasn't sure where to go. After day three of the course, I saw a myriad of ways to add some 'oompf' to the story. Thursday night was student reading night and I read a short piece entitled 'Home Depot' - all about a couple having an argument in a truck. Compliments from my fellow classmates and peers flew and I became cocooned in a world where people actually liked what I wrote.

I awoke on the Friday to find three presents waiting for me. My constant support, Hubby, gave me three notepads, a box of pens and the Chicago Manual of Style. I felt even more energized to write and get published - there's nothing like writing on the first page of a new notebook.

By the time the week ended I had met a wonderful set of writers; the woman whose memoirs focused on her mother's mental illness, another with a charismatic character called Harry and one whose young pianist Eva, admired a music teacher who was a holocaust survivor. I sincerely hope they find the courage to finish and publish; for they certainly have given that to me.

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