WRITING AS THERAPY
My first class in creative writing (and many others after) was in a community college. I enjoyed taking those classes. Since I wasn’t after credit or a grade I could take them over and over. It stimulated me to know the audience I was writing for. (Okay, for which I was writing. That sounds better to me too.)
My first instructor was brilliant. She knew nothing about me but she took one look at my first writing effort and said, “You are not doing an engineering progress report now.”
Wow. Did she nail it. I still find some of that form creeping into my style. The best (or worst) example of that is in my story, The Soc Trang Tigers, which I wrote long ago and changed little before posting here. (That is in Best Of or look at May 8, 2005.)
There were some housewives in some of my early classes. One sticks out in my mind. We were given the assignment to evaluate our lives. I saw this lady’s face light up. At the next class she brought in a sizable report. She had, she explained, written six chapters. Instead of numbering them, she had given each chapter a letter. The letters were M, O, T, H, E, and R. When she saw the incredulous look on my face she explained to me, “That spells mother.”
“Oh.” I nodded as if that made it clear to me. She had written a paean to her triumph as a mother.
That didn’t end it for her. At a later class she announced she had forgotten some of her virtues and had written five more pages.
There was a lady who needed no therapy. She was completely comfortable with who she was. Or was she? After all it was a creative writing class. Perhaps she was the most creative one there.
I would write such negative stuff about myself that no one would sit near me. I once wrote a story in the first person about being a paid killer. One lady would never be assured that I was not a killer.