Wednesday, March 15, 2006

WRITING AS THERAPY

I had no idea how therapeutic writing would be. My first efforts, many years ago, were pure therapy. That product will never appear anywhere. It was crappy writing but great therapy. Wow, did I get even with mean girlfriends.

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.

3 Comments:

Blogger Das said...

I was amazed when I entered the business world one of the big questions about employees was: can he write? Thank you notes to grant applications to sales reports- all important in business. I liked learning to write terse easy-to-understand emails about technical stuff to our offices all over Asia Pacific.

Your thearapy took and I think you are a good funny writer: start putting a book together!

March 17, 2006 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Das said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

March 17, 2006 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Walter Guest said...

I have written 7 books (5 fiction 2 statistical analysis) and have had 2 agents. My error was impatience. I always tried to sell the first draft My first drafts were never good enough.
This blog is better than anything I ever wrote before. This is my book.

March 23, 2006 at 9:12 PM  

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