Archive for the 'New tricks' Category


battle scars

Kerouac07.jpg picture by zanzinece 

My main man Kerouac


Oh, the pitfalls of on-line classes, of this particular on-line creative writing class I’ve taken, anyway.  It’s still going on, but it’s as good as over to me.  There are a few more motions to go through, and after that perhaps I’ll at least have come away with a one thousand dollar story to tell.  Certainly, I’ll come away with a few good and valuable things learned and one hell of a short story bible.  The plan is to offload those things here, but you know how even the best laid plans can go.  So while it’s in mind, a main theme or two in two tidy nutshells…


Nutshell #1 – good and valuable things learned:


I know a few things about the elements of fiction now—more than I knew before I started the class but far fewer than I should know after taking a college class—because the professor was not in the mix enough.  By that I mean the professor only posted one announcement and one or two comments per two-week module and those were only limply suggestive of guidance.  A bit more guidance was offered in the writing assignment evaluations, but mostly it was just us student bozos posting discussions and comments on assigned readings and on others’ discussions and volunteered pieces—the blind leading the blind.


In summary, if anyone as naïve as I was came to me for advice regarding online creative writing courses, I’d tell them to go beyond flipping over a few rocks on the internet and to really know the professor/instructor.  And when I say “really know” I mean trusted sources confirm that the professor/instructor rocks, and rocks big time.



Nutshell #2 – one hell of a short story bible:


I’d also advise any interested one who shows an aptitude for creative writing to get a copy of Ann Charters’ compilation of the finest short stories known to man, The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction.  I’d tell them this: If a degree track’s not in the equation and you’re an industrious sort, this book could save you a thousand dollars.  You can’t help but absorb the styles of the writers who turn you on.  And although you’ll never lose your style, your voice, completely, thankfully, it will be affected positively by the styles of the writers you admire.  Also, importantly, the Charters book is loaded with discussions and instruction on writing, so either way really, degree track or not, you can’t lose.


Search for the Grail: Ramping up

The Grail and Arthurian Legend

Photo credit 


The Holy Grail in question here is the almighty writing skill. 


Nineteen strangers, along with my strange self, will be embarking on this mission together, sort of.  Might as well dub us the Twenty Strange.


The mission is to “Consider the basic elements of fiction (e.g., plot, character, setting, theme) from the point of view of the creative writer, who makes both conscious and unconscious choices about these elements in the process of artistic creation. Read about the process of writing short fiction, and read a variety of short works that exemplify fictional elements to analyze the choices that other writers have made. Apply learning to the creation, discussion, and revision of your own creative work. This course focuses on the writing process. Students participate in a workshop setting to post their own drafts and discuss other students’ and established writers’ works of short fiction.”


The Twenty Strange are ramping up this week for the official mission send-off on Monday, March sixteenth.  Ramping up, so far, has meant a few of us trickling into the first discussion activity, “Why Write?  What motivates you to write for this course and what areas most concern you?”  Here’s my debut:


Need.  That’s my motivation. 


I’m stuck into this writing “thing” and have hit the wall just coasting, just sitting down, shaking out the kinks and praying to the gods of creativity for something good to flow through me and out.


I paid no attention in school and I need to put an engine—the elements of fiction—in this car so I can leave the soap box derby and move on to superkart, or off-road, or drag racing or something, anything besides the oldness, limitedness of this soap box derby!


Concerns are the same old fear-driven drill around not being able to do that:  Does little me really have something worthwhile to say, something that will interest others?  Will I fully understand the material here and really be able to use it successfully, or at least use it to produce what truly feels successful to me?  Will the rebel in me settle down long enough to adhere to a schedule to even give all the aforementioned a chance?


All of this, and the possibility of more and better, is what I’m here to participate with all of you in finding out.


Lame, I know, but let me assure you, I’m not the only gimp.