Friday, May 29, 2009

Portrait of a Novice Writer

My operating system is reinstalled, I've got about half my data restored from, and no, there aren't any residual trojans lurking in it.

I could do a post about the other big chunk of my data and files that have refused to be restored for the past week or more, but this isn't about that. It's about what else I was doing in April when I wasn't posting much.

I was taking a fiction writing class offered at a local church and taught by an author who's a prof at the local branch of the State U.

It was a good class. Good for the discussions on setting, character, plotting, dialog, and all the elements of fiction writing. Good for hearing about and discussing other people's projects. Good to be forced actually to work on a story idea I've had bouncing around in my head for three or four years at least.

What wasn't so good was that nobody else did any work at all. A lot of talking, but no work. I was the only one who actually wrote anything.

And I did. I really did. I spent long hours at it, and longer hours online reading writers' advice blogs and websites.

But because no one else brought in any writing, I never got the in-class critiques I was expecting. The teacher did tell me I should work on my novel (my novel? My novel!?) over the summer and she'd contact me about some writers' groups I might join in the fall. She feels I of all the class would benefit from being in one. But till then . . .

So I get to thinking: Should I-- might I-- would I post my work in progress here on the blog?

And I've decided, No. If it's any good, that'd queer it for ever getting published, because, hey, big chunks of it would be floating around on the Internet for free already. And if it's chozzerai, I've made a blinking ass of myself.

I've seen it happen. I'm thinking of one blogger in particular, who regularly writes bitingly-funny, heart-twistingly poignant nonfiction prose. But when she ventured into fiction, it was painful. It was as if she'd forgotten all the depths of characterization and motivation that made her blog posts so effective. And if such a fate could befall someone as good as she . . . what hope have I?

Nevertheless . . . though I won't post anything from my Big Project, I might publish here a little vignette I did for a class assignment. The writing instructor brought in an amateur oil painting she'd picked up at a flea market. It showed an old woman in a head scarf, and as a group we brainstormed who she might be, what her family, experiences, background, etc., were, and what crisis was facing her now. Then we were told to write a page of dialog based on it all.

This bit of writing isn't going anywhere; I have no wish or intention to develop this story further. So I think I'll post it. When I do, critique away. I can only learn.

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