Last Monday I was completely prepared to register for my third watercolor class. I had my eye on a class offered through the local school district’s Community Education program. I decided to take one more look at the program’s online catalog. I clicked on “Miscellaneous Classes” link and saw a class title that has refused to leave me alone since I first laid eyes on it in December: “Beginning Fiction Writing.” The class description looked pretty straightforward, “Exploring various works of popular fiction to determine what makes them successful. Students will have the option to submit their own works for class analysis. Students will learn to evaluate the different elements that make up good fiction and learn how to apply these elements to their own works. The course will require some work outside of class.” The last sentence was the hook for me.
I’ve had an idea for a [potentially very long] story ever since 2009. When I started this blog in 2010 I thought I would play around with the story, draft it and release “chapters” to see if the story was actually interesting to anyone. The problem is, as of last Monday, I had never once drafted a single word of the story. (I only had a few possible titles, a four-page premise and a list of principal characters). I was always too scared to start writing the story because I had never taken a creative writing class in college and I was sure my method would be bogus. This little $35 Community Education course with the promise of homework assignments was just what I needed to make me start writing something.
I set my watercolor aspirations aside and registered for the writing class. The first class took place the following evening (Tuesday 1/15). The instructor gave us a brief course overview and then we got right to the good stuff. An hour and a half later she asked us if we would be comfortable bringing a 3-page writing sample to class the following week. We agreed to do the assignment and as I drove home I realized it really was “go” time. Since Tuesday I have spent the majority of my free time outlining my characters and doing some research and development. If I stick with this project beyond the life of the writing course it will potentially turn into a multiyear project. I don’t have a great track record of sticking with big life plans but I can tell you that this last week has been a wonderful and liberating jaunt into a world that is mine to create. Life is a little more fun this way. My mind is working double-time trying to hold onto each idea that floats through it. I have never found myself scrambling for a pen and paper so many times in one day.
As of tonight I have written the first four pages of a very raw first draft of my story. I’m a little nervous about sharing it with my class tomorrow but luckily there are only four other students. (I should probably be more nervous about squeezing into one of the middle school student-sized desks!) Regardless of the feedback I receive tomorrow I am happy knowing that I have 1,997 words written instead of zero. I just need to put a little more trust in myself and keep going. For now I am going to let my mind keep wandering - with my notebook close by, of course - and see what my imagination can cook up.