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Fear of Commitment

Today was my last Creative Non-fiction class with Amye Archer.  I’m so sad about that because not only is she a rockin’ teacher, but our class was truly awesome.  We had such a good mix of people, and by the end of the class, I wasn’t the only one admitting my screw-ups!  It was really awesome to see some of the class develop into amazingly sharp writers.  Others were already good when they came in, but just needed a push to get them started.  Anyway, I’m going to miss the comaderie we all shared.

I’ve made a lot of discoveries over the last year, but none so huge as the one that I made today.  Amye asked us to write about where we are going as writers in the coming years.  I have a plan to go to grad school and all that, but I couldn’t write about it.  Why?  Because all I can think of is, Oh my God, I’m going to have to commit to a genre! But I can’t do that!  I love them all!  What’s a girl to do? 

I’m afraid to commit to a genre.  I’m afraid to commit to a project.  I can commit to a relationship, a child, a friend, or a job, but I absolutely can not commit to a writing project.  I wonder why that is?  Is it because I’m afraid it will consume my life, and take me away from the responsibilities of children, marriage, and schoolwork?  Am I afraid of success?  Maybe I’m afraid that I might actually be good at something; good enough to make people stand up and notice me.  Or, maybe, just maybe, it’s fear that I’ll finish something, and then have to go through the hell of trying to sell it.  Maybe I’m afraid that commiting to a genre for a project will limit me.  Who knows?

The point is, I’m running out of time to commit.  Truly commit to a project, not only for a semester, but until it’s done.  I’m having panic attacks about Capstone (2 semester graduation project) in the fall.  I literally feel like I’ll propose something, get approved, and then want to get out of it.  I need to get my butt in gear, get over the fear, and just commit, damn it!

Share your commitment fears with me.  What is it that you’re afraid to commit to?

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Writing

 

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Stage Fright

Keystone College teachers, Dr. David Elliot, and Amye Archer are hosting a joint reading tonight at the Vintage Theater in Scranton.  6:oo p.m. 119 Penn Avenue.  There will be poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction being read.  I’ll be reading an essay about how I became such a hard-rock fan/metal-head. 

Thank God I’m not an actress, because I suffer from stage fright.  My knees knock, my heart pounds, my mouth gets dry, and I literally feel like I’m going to pass out when I’m giving a speech, or reading my work.  I had to take an elementary public speaking course a few years ago, and let me tell you, I had to get drunk to pass it.  I literally drank Jack Daniels before I went into the class.  I used to bitch to my friends about how I was never going to use the damn class, why should I be required to take it?  Never say never…

Leave it to me to pick a career where self-promoting is the biggest success/fail factor.  My first public reading  was last October,  when I was invited by a teacher to read a short story at a reading that he put together with Barrelhouse, a D.C. based literary magazine.   I agreed, knowing full well that I was going to be terrified.  I stood up there (with 3 vodka shots under my belt) and somehow managed to get through it.  I thought, ok, now I’ve done it, it’s no big deal.

But, you know what?  It’s a big deal.  Whether it’s a crowd of 50 or 5, I feel scared.  I feel small.  And, I feel as though I never want to do it again.  Something keeps me coming back though.  I think it’s the desire for success.  It’s the drive that makes me give up nights out with my friends to attend a class, or skip the family get-together to get my homework done.  It’s that dedication that made me finish the short story that I was working on for my fiction class, the day after my brother-in-law died.  It’s the desire to succeed, no matter what the cost. 

Stage fright is a fight that I will someday win. Both my second, and third readings were done alcohol free 🙂 .  This will be my fourth reading, and although I’m still terrified, I am also looking forward to it.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Writing

 

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Happiness Is…

My mouth always gets me in trouble… The other day, I told my creative non-fiction teacher that I hate her class.  I didn’t mean that I hate her, or the classwork, or the homework.  I’m pretty sure she got that.  The assignment that we had to write was the story of our birth. It was an exercise in writing history that we weren’t present for. Well, for me, it doesn’t get much more unhappy than the day I was born.  I’m not here to whine, so lets just say that my mother didn’t want to have me, and my father was a douche-bag loser who never laid eyes on me until I was fourteen.  The essay I wrote for class was kind of ugly, but I tried to incorporate humor, so as not to make my classmates uncomfortable.  Because, well, I’m not the happiest person in the world, and it shows in my writing.

Our next assignment is to write a part of our memoir, and for me, the topic for that will be grim as well.  It’s not that I like to dwell on the past, hell, I’d love to forget it all.  But the bad times make SUCH good writing!  I think sometimes, if I hadn’t walked through the fires of hell in my past, then I would have nothing to write about. And then I become grateful.  For me, writing is a good way to make sense of things.  I’m grateful that I have it, and even though I go off in some of my personal notebooks, I don’t want to whine to the world.  But, how do I separate myself from the work at hand?  I’m still trying to figure that one out.

When I said I hated the class, I was basically saying that I hate feeling like a fuck-up every time I workshop an essay.  My past may have shaped me, but that doesn’t mean it dictates to me.  In fact, I’m more at peace with it now than I ever have been. But, I hate the way people look at me with pity.  Just because my life has not been peaches and cream, doesn’t mean that I’m looking for people to feel sorry for me.  I refuse to re-write history to suit me, or others. I refuse to write fluff, in order to make me look better.  That’s just not me.  I’m brutally, in-your-face honest when it comes to myself, and/or my past.  I think it may help someone, somewhere down the road.  And isn’t that the point of writing at all?  To reach your readers, make them experience what you’ve experienced? 

Maybe I’m jaded, but I think that happiness is over-rated.  Life is seldom all the way good, or all the way bad.  Maybe I got all of the bad stuff out of the way early on so that I’d have somthing to write about.  🙂

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Writing

 

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What’s Your Genre?

So I’ll be a senior in about eight weeks.  As pointed out by a friend of mine, I’ve taken every creative writing class that Keystone has to offer.  I’ve taken Intro to Creative Writing, Fiction, Screenwriting, Poetry, and I’m in the process of taking Playwriting, and Creative Nonfiction.  I’m a little sad that I’ve finished the classes because they encourage me to write.  They give me a goal, and a deadline.  And, I’ve gotten some fabulous pieces out of these classes.

Fiction was my favorite, by far.  There’s something comforting about writing fiction.  You get to play God, and change how the characters think, feel, or act.  You can tell a piece of non-fiction and change the ending to suit yourself.  You can provide exposition, and you don’t have to disguise it.  At times, I think fiction is the easiest genre to write.

I’ve come to realize that while fiction is my first love, I’m also pretty darn good at other genres.  Poetry was frustrating, but  it taught me to focus.  It taught me compression. I’ve completed an advanced class, had three poems published by The Plume, and gotten a good response from the five poems I read, written in the workshop I took with local poet, Brian Fanelli.  I learned to think outside the box in the poetry genre.  I’ve continued to draft poems, although I swore I would never write poetry again!  Never say never….

Screenwriting was the most maddening class that I’ve ever taken, yet I took away the best parts of it.  I learned to write as though I am looking through a camera lens, and I also mastered writing in the present tense.  That always gave me a problem before I took the class.  I don’t see me writing a screenplay in the near future, but it’s a great genre to teach a writer how to handle exposition, which you can’t come right out and give.

Creative Nonfiction may be my second favorite genre.  I love being able to use my experiences, and direct an audience to a realization.  I’ve graduated the school of hard knocks, so I’ve got a lot to share.  This genre is neat because it teaches you to distance yourself from emotional events as a writer.  I am really enjoying this class.

Playwriting is a cool genre to check out.  Eight weeks in to the semester has taught me a strong mastery of dialogue, and the need for a strong plot.  It’s also teaching me to write, even when I don’t feel like it.  I do write every day, but having a firm deadline forces me to create something even when I don’t want to.  I’m also learning that I do have talent.  And that’s been the hardest lesson for me. 

I guess the point of this is that all the genres of writing are helpful, in one area or another.  I recommend taking as many writing classes as possible, even if you think you know it all.  You may be surprised at what you don’t!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Writing

 

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