Hello, everyone! Welcome to Writer's Wednesday. Long time no see!
When I realized that the first Wednesday of May was two weeks away from the last post I did, I was a bit shocked, but here we are for Writer's Wednesday again, and I hope you're looking forward to the post. I liked this post so much, I put it on the Crimson Sterling blog, too, so there's only one post for today.
First off, some IMPORTANT NEWS (with caps, to make it even more important): May will be the last month in which I do Writer's Wednesday. I'm sorry to jump off the boat, but a lot of changes are occurring in my work and home life, and I'm having to take stock of what I can manage and can't, and WW is one of the things that's become a bit too much. I will still write on this blog and give advice, but it won't be every other Wednesday (I don't work well on schedule, it seems). I've had a lot of fun writing these posts, and I hope you've enjoyed them, and will stop back by to read my other posts, and check out the website...which will be changing very soon (how is a secret for now). Thank you for sticking with WW all this time! I will endeavor to make these last two official WW posts the best they can be!
So, onto the post! Enjoy!
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When I enrolled in Creative Writing class at my local college, I was extremely excited to see how everything was done. I was not necessarily new to writing, but I had never taken a formal class on it before, and had never actually experienced the thrill of meeting and chatting with other writers regularly (something I'm not sure I could live without now).
That semester is a bit of mush in my mind now, but at the same time the Creative Writing course stands out. My teacher was amazing, funny, and quirky, as all good English professors should be (for of course Creative Writing is an important part of the English language, for without it we couldn't and wouldn't have Literature, and that would be extremely depressing). I recall thinking that this class would be like my others in some ways, but my professor speared that idea directly from the beginning.
In my Creative Writing class we tried new things; we did things differently. We moved the desks to sit in a circle often, we moved to different rooms at times, or sat on the floor, or sat down in the cafe beneath the floor we were on. We read aloud, scribbled in notebooks, listened to the professor, edited each others work, people-watched, and did exercises that conflicted one another. I think if my professor taught me anything, it was to not be afraid to try new things -- and yet, don't forget the tried and true, and the important (such as grammar, which she was very big on; if nothing else matters, grammar does).
I am a lyrical writer, much less now perhaps than before -- or, conflictingly, perhaps more so now than I ever have been. I like to describe things as I see them, not literally, in figurative language. I recall my professor finding this odd, but I also recall her accepting it, and then asking me to try writing in a different format, to see what I might get out of it.
She encouraged me to try something new, to see how it would inspire me.
I love to read classics, and one of the things that I find when reading them is that they are so different compared to most of today's writing. Some of my favorite novels are written in journal format (such as Dracula), or as if the main character were verbally telling their story to you (such as Frankenstein). They may be written in a direct format, much less show than tell, the opposite of what we are told to do now (in my opinion, Jane Austen was very good at keeping tell entertaining). And then there are those novels that make you laugh, simply because the author is in constant contact with you, speaking to you like a friend, and often referring to you as "dear reader" (Peter Pan is one of my favorites of this flavor of novel).
I am sure that in the time periods in which they were written, these formats may have been the "norm" for writing, such as a fast-paced, short-sentence novel is for our current readership (groan; don't get me started on that one, please), but when I pick up a cleverly written book, sentences pieced meticulously together, it makes me want to try something new.
Do you want to try something new?
New things -- in writing, or in life in general -- can open new doors, and by trying new things, we can reach people we could never have reached before. The oddest story might find a place in someone's heart, or it might inspire someone else to do something amazing.
I love to try new things, and try to do so as often as possible. Just the other day I went zip-lining/tree-obstacling with my family (comical, because I don't like heights, particularly if you're on something unstable), and it was actually an amazing new experience that I'm sure will end up in one of my stories some day. I also asked my great-aunt recently to show me how to crochet, and though I'm not terribly wonderful at it as of yet, I enjoy it, too, and through that was able to hear about her life, and where she learned to crochet, and a bit about the past, which is always fascinating to me.
When I was young, I used to write the strangest stories, things I don't even know how I came up with. But when you get older, into the realm of "expectation", you can lose that ability -- to try new things, and to genuinely enjoy them. However, with work, you can get the ability back, and start trying new things again.
Remember what I said about how we can inspire others -- or, in reverse, how they can inspire us when we try new things? Madeleine L'Engle, as always, had some wonderful advice concerning this, quite poetic:
"A great painting, or symphony, or play, doesn't diminish us, but enlarges us, and we, too, want to make our own cry of affirmation to the power of creation behind the universe...This response on the part of the artist is the need to make incarnate the new awareness we have been granted through the genius of someone else...
...It is beauty crying out for more beauty."
We shouldn't be afraid to try something we've never tried before, something we're excited about, to see new beauty that someone else, somewhere in time, created. What brave worlds can you explore by trying something new?