Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Writing Workshops LA: My First Class

Tonight was the first of eight classes in my creative nonfiction workshop. Through great occurrences of a tweet and a click I discovered "Writing Workshops LA:" a private writing school one of my regulars at the cafe founded. Very cool. There were spaces left in the creative nonfiction class and I thought to myself: Andrea, get your shit together.

When I was a student, I did fairly well as a student. Despite my procrastinating ways, I did my work-and well-for the most part. So then I graduated. And I tried to rush back into school again, it was my comfort zone. But school said no-go live (or at least that's how I optimistically interpreted my rejections). So I lived, and moved to a new city and new job, new skills, and new movies, new restaurants. And then I had an idea-a book idea. I threw myself into my new literary relationship. Head. Over. Heels. And then we started fighting and then we made up, but still I was getting frustrated. And then there was the tweet. Who knew what a tweet could do?

The first class was wonderful. All six ladies (who all have names with either an A or an E-I'm fondly calling this workshop the A & E channel) are wonderful. I'm so excited to read more of their work as our first assignment gave us a preview to each one of our voices. The prompt was: why I write. And so-here's my answer. The next several blogs will follow my journey on the first kind of adult thing I consider with my writing career. Taking a class, making connections, and finally meeting people who are on the same lovely, agonizing struggle as I. Writing-blah-what a bitch.

"Why I Write"

Why I write-for the past several years I’ve had a different answer on each new birthday. I knew that what I wanted to hone, to craft, to nurture, was my writing. There was vast room for improvement and for learning but when I graduated high school, that’s all I knew. 6 years, one degree, and 8 rejections from creative writing programs across the nation later, I have a solid answer: people.

I write because I am genuinely interested in them: their stories. It’s absurd and, yet so liberating, my ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger and open up. Listening has become a great component to my writing, without it, I will fail. The thing about “people” is that they’re like the roses we don’t stop to smell. Yeah-I’m using that cliché. But honestly, we are so quick to get to point A to point B and even more so, point C-that we forget to sit down and chat with one another.

What gets me going as a writer, what makes my mind buzz, is sitting down with one person and cracking them open. It’s like a fantastic piñata. Now I’m not saying that every Henry and Nancy has an epic story, but as a writer I must pick and choose which ones I see worthwhile. A storyteller picks the stories that cater to his abilities whether that may be in humor, in suspense, or in drama, but the important factor lies in the storyteller’s skill to know which story fits him and vice versa.

I write because I am on the pursuit for these people-these stories-that will fit me as much as I will fit them. A writer’s subject must be willing to be as open and as a part of the storytelling as the writer and, in fiction, that can be quickly remedied: you dictate and create the subjects; as a part of your imagination, they have no choice! On the other hand, real-life subjects with pulses and free will can tell you no. I risk a broken ego every time I ask someone to let me listen, to let me in. Though however dangerous this path may be for my writer’s ego, I welcome it. I’ve come to a point in my life where I do not want my writing to be about me necessarily and what I choose to create in this novel or this story, but rather about novels and stories already existing-walking and breathing pass me.

I’m a conversationalist: that’s why I write.

Until next Tuesday....


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