In a sense I am a writer. I write for this blog and my own blog too, but do I really consider myself a “real” writer? Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I didn’t go to school to study writing or English, but… I like to write. Actually, I really, really like to write. I find it fun and I’m learning I have a lot to say as a “blogger”.
Last week was a Writing Week of sorts. We had three amazing guests who I learned so much from in just 2 short 45 minute sessions. Writers Leslie Levine and Sam Barry and publisher/editor, Joelle Delbourgo. I honestly wish I could go to a full weeks workshop with these three. They are a wealth of information for aspiring writers. Did I mention they are a lot of fun too? I had a blast in their classes, even though it got a bit scary…I’ll explain.
I decided to take the Fictional Writing class offered by Sam Barry…just for the heck of it. Why not, right? I have no fictional writing experience aside from a story I wrote in 2nd grade. I was feeling feisty though and I figured I might learn something.
The beginning of the class was super fun. We all together created this character by calling out descriptive words. So this is who we came up with; a middle-aged man who is gracious, sexy, overweight, a c.p.a. living in a renovated barn in South Carolina. Oh, and he plays the harmonica and has facial hair. I actually wanted him to be a middle-aged man who lived with his parents, but it got vetoed. In my mind I was picturing someone like John Candy in Uncle Buck who looks like Mario Batali.
So my curious mind was thinking, what are we going to do with all this character info? Is Sam going to teach us to write a story about this character? Are we all going to write one together collectively (that’s what I was hoping)…we’re not going to have to write one ourselves, right? Because, I’m not a writer and you see, I don’ write fiction. Nope, wait, what? Yes, that’s exactly what we were going to do.
Also, we had 15 minutes to do it…so you could say the pressure was on. Okay, so at this point my mind was drawing a complete blank. All I knew was that in my heart, this guy, this character was somewhat of a loser. So that was my start…and since he’s not supposed to be living with his parents, maybe he could be house sitting for his parents? Yeah, that’s good. And maybe, his parents are these really amazing people who work for non profits in Guatemala and they’ve raised this man-child that they’re trusting to house sit their newly renovated barn dream house. Oh, and being the immature unmotivated c.p.a he is who only works during tax season, living in a cheap mid-town apartment so that he can cruise around the rest of the year, he gets into a little trouble while living in luxury in the barn. The trouble was yet to be determined. Oh, and his name is Billy. Done and done.
Time was up. Remember when I said something scary happened? Yes, I’m sure you can guess by now. We had to get up and read our story! Ugh!! Are you kidding me? But, it’s not done and I told you, I’m not a writer and I don’t write fiction!
Leslie Levine was the first one to get up and read and of course, it was beautifully written. It also had a surprise ending that we didn’t see coming. As Sam asked who wanted to go next, my eyes darted around the room to avoid eye contact. I looked down at my paper, embarrassed. Well I certainly did not want to go next. Unfortunately when I looked up I made direct contact with Joelle who promptly said that I seemed feisty and that I should go next. I replied that no, I’m not feisty, I’m scared.
“Come on” everybody said, “We’re all friends here!” So, what could I do? I went up there, whimpering I was so scared and croaked out my story, tripping over my words in the meantime. I looked up timidly when I was done to smiling faces.
“That was good!” said Joelle, everyone nodding in agreement.
“Really? I asked.
“Oh, okay…well, cool!”
You know, here’s the thing. With that one character, each of us came up with some really entertaining stories that were funny, scary, suspenseful, romantic and different. Each story was completely different from the last. Even though it was SO scary for me to get up there, the high I got from it afterward was so worth it. Plus, I learned that each one of us essentially could be writers and we could even write fiction.
I have to thank Sam for being so encouraging and delightful as our teacher. I thoroughly enjoyed his class and really, I had so much fun. I also want to thank Joelle for pushing me to get up there and facing the scariness! Also, Leslie for being so inspiring. I definitely hope we have all three of them back at the Ranch, they were a hoot!
Last thing before we part ways, please check out this beautifully written article by Sam Barry about his experience at the Ranch this year. It’s touching, enlightening…well, I could go on and on…