Writing Class Assignment

Alison’s apartment was stunning. A vision. On the 23rd floor of her building overlooking the Manhattan Skyline, and a park below. It had a modern décor, all black leather and stainless steel; right angles. Swanky. I loved it from the first second she welcomed me in, and every time after that. Tonight’s festivities were a party, more or less to celebrate my latest novel. Well, honestly, more to give everyone a reason to dress up and be beautiful. Less about my book.

Alison was my publisher, and my champion. I was introduced to her 11 years ago by a mutual friend. I liked her immediately. I discovered she was an author, and since I was on the verge of my writing career, had a million questions for her. I probably only asked 265,000 of them. I was showing restraint. She also had a career as an editor. She edited some of the early versions of my first novel, before her publishing career took off.

Alison believed in my writing even before I did. I knew that I enjoyed writing and had some amount of talent. She encouraged me and guided me as I developed. Her editing skills were put to the test in those early years.

It was my first invitation to one of Alison’s parties while I happened to be in New York trying to make my writing career happen. It was shortly after my first, largely ignored book was published. I was stashed away in the corner of her apartment. She had a telescope near the balcony door, and I was drawn to it the first time I was there. It was a kind of security blanket for me. It was a conversation starter when people circulated past me.

I was in the midst of a conversation with two people I knew from Alison’s firm when she walked in.

Rachel Pratt was the latest “It Girl”. Swimsuit model. Victoria’s Secret Angel. Her face and figure were being used to sell everything from hamburgers to sports cars and everything in between. There was quite the commotion as she entered. She was the center of a whirling dervish of publicists, assistants and camera folks who were filming a reality TV show about her. All eyes immediately were drawn to her. Some camera phones came out to capture the moment. Eventually the commotion settled down, and the party returned to its normal pace.

There was a lull in my conversation too when suddenly a voice from behind me said “I really enjoyed your book.” It was Rachel. First, I couldn’t believe she was actually speaking to me. Second, I didn’t know that anyone I hadn’t personally handed the book to had read it. Sales were that slow.

“Thank you” I managed to reply, after catching my breath. “I didn’t know anyone had read it.”

“It was quite good. Alison gave me a copy when we had lunch last month.”

“I need to thank her for that” I replied.

“Your jacket photo doesn’t do you justice” she said with a little smile. I’m certain I blushed at that point.

Even though her face and body were the thing of teenage dreams, for me, it was her eyes. Crystal blue, sparkling. To say I was smitten would have been a gross understatement.

July 7, 2018

So, I’ve not posted for a while…I know you’re surprised by that. This time, I have a really valid reason. I promise!! I just finished a writing workshop. So, I’ve been working on my writing while not actually writing here.

Some backstory.

I had been looking for a writing class off and on for quite a while. I kept looking at the local community college, thinking that was the most likely place to find this. I was unsuccessful. They seemed to want me to enroll. I didn’t want to be a “student”. I have a Bachelor’s degree, I don’t believe an AA is going to do anything for me at this point. I was looking for a personal enrichment course. I just couldn’t seem to find it. I looked at the community college in the next county; a friend of mine works there. I assumed that this wasn’t that strange of a request. It appears that it was. Fast forward to about two months ago. I was sitting in the cigar shop with one of the guys that works here part time, who’s main job is on staff at the local University. He was discussing his job with one of the customers and mentioned that his group was in charge of continuing education. There was a figurative and literal (or so it seemed) light bulb above my head. While he was in conversation, I was on their web site on my phone, and had found the class I ended up taking.

I hemmed and hawed for a while. I didn’t want to commit. It was odd. I was looking for an out. For no particular reason other than self-doubt. I got over that in a couple of hours though, and enrolled. The conversation happened on a Sunday, and the class started on a Wednesday. It was a perfect timing, I was in it before I really had a chance to talk myself out of it.

The class was phenomenal. I learned almost immediately that the self-doubt is a common trait among writers, not just beginning writers. The class gave us exercises to overcome the doubt, and exercises to improve the writing.

Our main assignment for the class was to write a 500-word story. We could either write a short story or provide the first 500 words of a longer piece. I chose the latter. I had a scene idea in my head for months prior to ever finding the class. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I was fighting my initial thoughts of what it was going to be or should be. I didn’t really believe, before the class, that it was valid, or worthy, or something. One of the main take-aways for me from the class is that the only way to fail at writing, is not to write, or to stop writing. I’ve learned, or am trying to learn and apply, is that my ideas are as valid, and as “good” as anyone else’s, My writing has to satisfy me, and be valid and credible to me before it can be valid or credible to anyone else first. I need to let the stories be what they are going to be.

Another big take-away is that I can share my writing with others. Since the class started, I’ve been very open about the fact that I am writing and have even shared it with several people both in the writing class and others that I have known for years. All of the feedback has been positive. I am gaining a lot of confidence as a writer, and as a person.

I’ll post the writing assignment as the next post in the blog, below.

One other point about the class, is that I really enjoyed being back in class. The school, and it’s online partner that offered the course also have a couple of courses on WordPress, the software I use on this site, and I’m going to enroll in those courses next. They start in two weeks’ time, so the site updates I promised a few posts ago are forthcoming. I’m probably going to use my own site as the test bed for the course, so it may actually get worse before it gets better. 🙂