I’m guilty. I’ve been signing up for writing classes since I started writing way back when my youngest was 2 or so (He’s in his late 20’s). I’ve done college classes (excellent), online courses (variable). Like Claudia Casper, I love literary festivals as well (SO fun and full of kindred spirits and one was in Iceland, just saying). I’ve done Humber, Gotham, and a few other classy places.
One could argue that I’ve been wallowing in writing courses and socializing with other writers rather than actually (ahem) writing. But I have been published here and there over the years and was feeling pretty confident until I started writing for public health and was told I needed to suck all the life out of things. Now I have too much life in things. It’s like, once the boot of writing pamphlets was lifted off my neck, all I seem to be able to write is bad language, unusual sex scenes, and naughty characters. And religion.
I MAY be working a few things out somewhere in the depths of my brain.
I’ve just finished a Masterclass online, taught by Margaret Atwood. I’ve had my difficulties with Ms. Atwood, with her negative worldview, and most especially with the stranglehold she has on Canadian Literature. In a sour grapes way, I complain about the FOMA (Friends of Margaret Atwood), those who get slid in for Booker prizes on their first attempt, the upper crust of writers. (I am still bitter about Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, which is yet another memoir about how awful doctor training is. They should try nursing training – the same disadvantages with much less pay and no respect.) (OMG, Bloodletting has been optioned for television! Gawd.)(I really don’t think it’s very good, can you tell?)
But I’m slipping into my usual pit of writerly jealousy and self-hatred (What have I published recently, anyway???). So, back to the class. Very rarely in the writing biz you fall across someone who is both a good writer and a good teacher. Margaret Atwood is one of those rare angels. (As are Christina Decarie and Meg Wolitzer and David Lebovitz and Claudia Casper, to name a few) The others I mentioned are good face to face, where I met them. Margaret Atwood manages to be warm, engaging, encouraging and realistic while chatting to a screen. As in Steven King’s wonderful On Writing, her course offers nuggets of information that are worth the time and expense to obtain.
Well, at least I think so, and as I said, I’m a bit of an expert in these things.
My favourite tidbit of advice from Margaret Atwood’s course?
“The wastepaper basket is your friend. It was invented for you, by God.”
I’m posting that on my computer. I need to remember this. For all of my creative endeavours…it’s freeing and opens the door to literary and creative play. After all, no one has to hear a wastepaper basket scream… and I can even use my crafting urge to create the basket itself!