Entering uncertain territory in the creative writing class

Back to School is an occasional series about this grown-up’s experience taking a class for the first time in about a decade.backtoschoollogo

As I eyeballed the course schedule back in my first class, a lot of it made me smile.

Poetry–I did an honors thesis on that for my degree. It was fun, and my alma mater gave me something like 10 credits for it. Cool.

Creative nonfiction–Basically column writing, which was always one of my favorite parts of being a journalist in my past life.

Literary criticism–OK, I think that means I read things and write about them? A fancy phrase for “review”? I can handle that.

Fiction workshop–Oh, dear. Fiction.

Though I’m a huge reader, I don’t read many short stories, and I have zero memory of any short stories I wrote in college. The form just never stuck for me. We’re partway through fiction in class so far, and it has consisted of reading some short fiction (um, are you familiar with Raymond Carver’s “Popular  Mechanics”? So amazing, mind=blown) (if you look it up, a warning: It’s way dark), reviewing a published piece by the instructor, and some in-class assignments, like penning a series of six-word stories and turning one into a 100-word story. Tuesday, we turned in the first drafts for our short stories.

Brooding Carver

Electronically, of course.

Six classes in, I still can’t get used to not turning in hard copies and finding homework assignments online; it’s probably the only thing that makes me feel ancient as one of the old people in the class. But I’m still looking forward to Tuesday night each week, and I’ve even made a friend, a woman who makes my mouth drop at all she’s juggling: single motherhood with three kids and a full-time class load.

To you student magicians out there who do it all: Kudos. You’re fantastic.

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