Writing Class – Revisited


The first creative writing class I took in college was a disaster.

Me, the girl who scribbled stories furiously in her notebooks between classes, got an F.  The professor was a stellar example of how NOT to be a writing teacher.  She’d missed the memo that criticism, especially directed at young writer, should be constructive not caustic.  After several assignments in which she made me feel like something she’d scraped off her shoe I quit going.

I was a young woman who desperately wanted to be a writer, and had no idea how to do it.  I needed a mentor, a guide, or at the very least someone to actually teach me how to get better – and the only thing that class taught me was that choosing to be a writer can sometimes be extremely painful.

Luckily, since then I’ve had better experiences.   While pursuing graduate work in another field I was able to sneak in a couple of writing classes.  And they were great.  I learned a lot, had teachers who actually taught, and even better, heartily encouraged me to keep writing and gave me every hope that I might be writing things other people would want to read.

Even that was a long time ago though. These days I’m the professor not the student.   I’ve pondered an MFA – but when you have a PhD in another field more school seems a little crazy, a little too extravagant.

But thanks to a tuition reduction from the college where I work, tonight I walked into “Intro. to Novel Writing.”  Just an undergrad class, of course, but I was so excited, like five-year-old on Christmas Eve excited, to be back learning about writing again.  Granted the ghost of that first infamous disaster class is always there, but n0w I have enough experience to have walked out if I caught a whiff of that kind of garbage.

Tonight was everything I wish that first class had been.  Fun, exciting, communal, inspiring – with just enough challenge to make it interesting.  I admit, it’s  hard sometimes not to look back and wonder what might have happened if I’d had a decent teacher in that first college class.  But I know it’s better to focus on the present, and on the good things in life – and I think my new writing class is definitely one of them.





Doctor Who: Geek Speak Monday

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.”

-Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who

I’m in a having a sort of geek girl ennui that stems from the fact they took Doctor Who off of Netflix.  Seriously, I catch myself thinking “I’ll go watch ‘Silence in the Library'” and then remember it isn’t there anymore and I’ll sigh.   And also, I miss David Tennant and Matt Smith like they are old friends I can’t see anymore.


An Ode to Arrow’s Stuntwork: Superhero Saturday

Tonight my husband and I went to see Jason Bourne – and we sat in the second row – and by the time it was over I was literally motion sick.


To be fair, I love Bourne Identity. It’s one of the best action movies out there, and I think it changed the landscape of action hero films and even superhero films to some degree.  For example, I think Daniel Craig’s “blunt instrument” Bond is as much a descendant of Jason Bourne as he is of the previous iterations of 007.

But in terms of stunts and action the Bourne film I saw tonight was a shaky cam letdown.  I’ve gotten picky about my stunt sequences in the last few years, and it isn’t because of a movie – it’s because of a TV show.

Arrow has truly fabulous stunts and action sequences, and they’ve kind of spoiled me for anything that’s not done well.

Of course it helps that Arrow has a lead actor willing to do a lot of his own stunts (apparently to the tune of a real life broken nose recently), and is set in a world where fantastical fight sequences are the bread and butter. Not every show can have a crew of arrow and bo staff wielding heroes fighting an army of super soldiers in their season finale.


That aside though,  every single of episode of Arrow is full of crisp fight sequences in which you get to “see” the punches and kicks being landed.  And they aren’t just well-filmed and choreographed they are inventive – Oliver jumping between floors of a building on the outside of a fire escape, Canary descending into a fight on the industrial version of aerial silks, Thea fighting the bad guy into and back out of a moving elevator – memorable and fun to watch.

So be warned other shows – the bar has been set pretty high by the Green Arrow and friends – and of course, by the crew that makes them look good.


Reading as A Writer – Part II

Last week I talked a little bit about what reading can teach you as a writer.  There’s also one or two other things that happen when you analyze a favorite book to figure out how it works.

  1. It can be terrifying to realize how brilliant the author really is.  There are some authors who pull off feats that seem beyond that of a normal person.  I generally have this experience when I think about Possession by A.S. Byatt – yeah there’s some content in that book that isn’t my favorite.  But to pull off not only multiple points of view in multiple centuries, but to write the poetry of two separate characters with two radically different styles?  I’m not sure I’m ever going to have what it takes to pull off something like that but…
  2. You also learn that they construct their books one word and one sentence at a time, just like you do – and sometimes they are average, normal, even (gasp!) occasionally clunky sentences.  I was doing a close reading of a book which I, as a reader, have always loved – but once I started picking it apart I realized that I would have jettisoned the prologue, and well, there’s a confusing sentence in the first chapter, and…it’s always extremely heartening to realize that maybe you don’t have to write the perfect book in order to write a great one.

Simon Pegg: Geek Speak Monday

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something.

It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

– Simon Pegg

This is one of my favorite quotes about being a geek.  I love the idea that geekery is all about interest and passion and being unapologetic about that enthusiasm.