Posted on June 3, 2012
Tomorrow marks my first foray into formal writing workshops in over six years. As said before in this blog, I used to write creatively prolifically in my younger days when I wasn’t as afraid of people panning my words or ideas. I had enough bravado to think that in high school, I had a way with words that was above and beyond my peers’ abilities. That hubris was backed up by winning a regional writing competition and moving on to the state level (where I proceeded to dramatically choke in the timed writing exercise).
In college, I felt like I was one of millions who were just average. It was a feeling that kept me from auditioning to get into the music program (which I was invited to join my last semester my senior year – a little too late), and kept me from pursuing a BFA in creative writing rather than a BA in English. While I don’t knock my literature experience, I have tamped down my creative side for a long time.
One of my professional perks has been to read a lot from classic works to contemporary hits in order to teach effectively. I shared my love for Tolkien with my students by covering all of my walls in posters when the movies came out. I read every word of Twilight when I saw that every one of my students were reading and discussing it. And now, I read every novel I can find that has anything remotely to do with my creative ideas and try not to get discouraged that someone else had a similar idea.
However, with one email, I am now dealing with serious butterflies of the stomach. Not only is the workshop lower on participants than usual, the size of the class means that we’ll be able to workshop a lot of our own works. This means there is no hiding and waiting for others to line up in front of the firing squad first. My ideas and words will be naked on display in front of…well, only a few others. But if you had been hiding those words for as long as I have, you wouldn’t feel so happy to disrobe them in public.
But wait…there’s more. Instead of emailing our first works of sharing to each other, we will be reading them out loud in front of each other. I believe that I have a decent narrating voice based on years of reading passages to students and channeling my dad’s voice that slays me every time he reads “The Other Wise Man” at Christmas. But I haven’t read my own words to anyone – not even my nearest and dearest.
An old high school friend of mine reminded me of when he sat behind me in chemistry class and would read (on the sly) my creative offerings with great enthusiasm. I’m to think of him tomorrow as I sit with my new workshop cohorts. I guess the only thing to do is to breathe deeply, find something peaceful on which to meditate, and get on with it. Besides, tomorrow is just the first step in my summer of “get it done”-ness. I’ve signed up for a non-science fiction/fantasy workshop as well, and I’ve paid my money for the writing workshop prior to Dragon Con in Atlanta.