This Tuesday will mark my sixth and final writing class at Grub Street. It is a good point for me to sit back and reflect on what I have learned, not only about writing but about myself. I took the course entitled Jump Start Your Writing, which is designed to help one do just that, set a discipline to write. We’ve been given various prompts and exercises both fiction and nonfiction, and we then read some or all of what we have written to the class. It’s hard, especially for me, an introvert, to read ones stuff out loud. It feels like one of those dreams where you are naked and out there for all to see, my writing good, bad or indifferent is out there for all to hear and critique. I find it hard to do mainly because I don’t consider myself to be a great writer, not even a good one at that. I struggle with the words, what I see in my minds eye, the scenes, the conversations, everything that makes for good writing, seems stilted and flat when I write it all down. As I look around at my fellow travelers on this writing journey I see several who are very good. As they sit there on a computer or using pen and paper, you can almost see the words flowing out of their heads and onto the screen or paper. Their stories paint a picture that draws one in immediately. In just a few sentences you are brought into a world that you want to know more about. I haven’t quite got there, at least I don’t feel that I’ve arrived at that place. I knew going into this that I wasn’t expecting to be the next Hemingway, so I never set my own goals too high but I had hoped to be able to put to text what I saw in the movies playing in my mind.
What I have discovered is that writing is hard work. It’s opening a dialogue with yourself and the characters that inhabit the deepest regions of imagination. Whether it is fiction, nonfiction or memoir, to write is to expose oneself in a very personal, and at times, intimate ways. Your, I should say, my thoughts are brought out into the light to be examined, dissected and dismantled, which can be a frightening experience. I read somewhere that hell for an introvert was to be in a place where all of ones inner thoughts were out for all to see and being exposed as the fraud we feel we are as people ridicule those thoughts.
The greater question right now for me is where do I go from here? There is that small voice deep inside the recesses of my mind that continually whispers that I should continue. That even though the road is long and filled with many mountains and valleys, I need to continue on this path. Like my calling to the ordained ministry, a calling filled with mystery that even now I have yet to decipher, this need to write is also a great mystery which I may never decipher. If anything, I hope to leave something of myself, a breadcrumb that may one day be followed by another who is also traveling down this same path. A small beacon of hope that leads one forward.