When I was in junior high school I took a creative writing class.
The teacher had in those days what was considered a progressive approach in that all that was required of us was to write and then read our work aloud to the class every day. There was no required reading, no study of famous authors or poets and the final exam was (as you guessed) a piece of writing, done during the examination time.
At the end of this school term, our class had enough passable work that the teacher entered many of our stories and poems in a local writing competition. All the winning pieces were published in a book that was ‘launched’ at a fancy hotel in downtown Vancouver.
I remember my poem being chosen for the book and trooping downtown to read it to the ballroom full of parents, students and teachers.
Recently, while cleaning out my bookcase (yes, even librarians must perform this horrifying task) I came across that published copy of our work and had a chuckle as I remembered how nervous I was. What was more surprising was that I’d forgotten all about that silly poem (or so I call it now) and had to re-read it to recall the lines. What I do remember is all the writing we had done. How peaceful that class was – a room full of 15-year-olds, heads bent to the task, often just gazing out the window to reflect on the words they’d just written.
I remember being inspired by what others had written, more so upon hearing it read aloud.
We practiced reading for emphasis, using our vocabulary to the best advantage, accepting the feedback after sharing with the class and above all; thinking, thinking, thinking and allowing our minds the freedom to pour it all out onto the page.
Anyone can be a writer. It takes dedication, persistence and of course, “thinking” time. Every author I know has told me the best way to learn to write is to read, read and read some more.
If you’ve always dreamed of seeing your thoughts in print, the library has some great resources to get you started.
The Playful Way to Serious Writing, by Roberta Allen is a fun look at constructive ways to get going.
For a more journalistic approach try You Can’t Make this Stuff Up, by Lee Gutkind.
In her book, The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg says “Writing is for everyone, like eating and sleeping. Buddha said sleep is the greatest pleasure. We don’t often think of sleep like that. It seems so ordinary. But those who have sleepless nights know the deep satisfaction of sleep. The same is true of writing. We think of it as no big deal, we who are lucky to be literate. Slaves were forbidden to learn to read or write. Slave owners were afraid to think of these people as human. To read and to write is to be empowered. No shackle can ultimately hold you.”
Summerland has many talented authors. If you’re a writer, you are invited to an Authors’ Coffee Morning on Saturday, March 12 at 10:30 a.m. in the Meeting Place of the library. In the evening, writers are invited to read their original poems, passages of prose, memoirs or short videos at Four Minutes of Fame at 7 p.m. in the main library.
This is an open mic night – original material presented aloud in four minutes.
Sue Kline is the Community Librarian at the Summerland Branch of the ORL.