26 February 2017


This is PRECISELY how it went down in class yesterday.
In a few posts here in the Den, I've pointed out that if I could have made a living that would have supported my family, I would have been a full-time university student. Seriously, I would never have left. I loved going to school at the university level (high school, not so much). However, after seeing my share of guys in their mid- to late-30s dragging themselves to class, living in married student housing with children in middle school, I knew the full-time student gig was not for me.

So off to the big, bad work world it was for me and there I've been ever since. Over the years, I've thought about going back to school. I'd had no advanced degree in mind. I just wanted to go back to school for the opportunity to challenge myself and learn something new. I've done some executive education related to my job and even spent some time back on campus (Cornell was pretty cool) but that's been the extent of it. I've tried to keep my writing skills up to snuff through my rantings writings in the Den and I've enjoyed that but I've wondered what more could I do to improve my writing and see where this could take me.

Yesterday, I took that first step to finding the answers to those questions. Having heard some good things about the Gotham Writers Workshop, I reviewed their curriculum and decided to give it a go. I took my first class in more than 27 years when I sat down in a one-day course called Personal Essay Writing. I squeezed (my body is not the slender temple it was the last time I was in a classroom setting) into the all-in-one desk / chair / torture device, took at my pen and a pad of paper (keeping it old school), and steeled myself for a day of learning. What a day it was!

Show, don't tell

As we wrote six different times throughout the day, I was in heaven! I wanted to read everywhere one of my samples just to get the perspective of the other students as well as our instructor. I didn't because I had to recognize that it wasn't all about me. I found myself taking copious notes throughout the day and getting excited about what's next in terms of my writing and the stories I can tell. It was fascinating to hear what the other students had written. I was amazed at the skill shown as well as the fearlessness. Their stories were moving, funny, and insightful.

The day ended all too soon but that spark I felt is now growing. I'm wanting to set aside time throughout the week now to work on a prompt or two. I'm looking at other classes and opportunities to become a better writer. I'm more and more convinced of the power of stories. My new favorite hashtag comes from Gotham Writers, #storieseverywhere. Stories reveal what is common to us. They reveal our good and our bad. They reveal our humanity.

Stories are everywhere. I'm looking forward to telling a few more of mine. When will you tell yours?

1 comment:

Franklin Sorenson said...

Great post. Writing is very therapeutic, and Ellen and I are embracing it as one of our retirement activities. I'm completing a novella (probably not publishable traditionally) and Ellen is completing a middle-grade historical fiction (fugitive slave) novel. Writing is empowering and stimulating. We recommend subscribing to Writer's Digest, which has lots of topical suggestions and ideas for stimulating creativity. We'll have to team up for an anthology in 10 years when we are all famous and rich. Good luck, and happy writing!! I'll watch for your name on the NY Times best seller list, or maybe as a columnist in the Connecticutistan Chronicle.