Saturday, February 20, 2016

Feeling a tad guilty about taking so many writing classes at such expense and even toying with the idea of $1,000 for three days at Hedgebrook -what? So as I noodle about with my daily practice, I wanted to reiterate to myself what Heidi Julavits said about writing classes. She was talking about learning to water ski as an adult and how really hard that is. She tried repeatedly and couldn't get up. I identify completely. And all of the people in the boat kept yelling suggestions at her:  "bend your knees" or "let the boat pull you" or "try it with one ski first" but finally, out of the cacophony of orders, she heard "Lean Back!" She did and up she went skimming over the waves. So by taking these classes, I am waiting to hear my "lean back." Everyone has much to offer and lots of suggestions, but eventually someone will have the one that resonates with I will race atop the waves along with the boat.

A lot of what I have learned, I ignore or forget about. I am not sure how actually useful the Lexicon book is although it can't help but expand my vocabulary. I never use Christine Hemp's little cut out window. I haven't really tried Erik Larsen's cut and paste with chunks all over the floor although it might do wonders for the Nicaragua piece. If I wrote fiction, Elizabeth George's character studies sound invaluable and would spur a fiction piece forward in that you'd have fully developed characters before formulating a story. I do try to read out loud everything I write and find that helpful. I do circle all of the adjectives, adverbs and verbs and try to improve on them. Martha taught me that as well as to PAY ATTENTION TO TENSES with which I still struggle on every piece. I use the thesaurus a lot. Maggie Nelson's class was amazingly educational about gender studies and "writing about the body" but doubt that I'll do a trans-gendered character anytime soon. I can't even remember what I learned from Mona Simpson. Wendy's classes are good but it's been a long time and I've pretty much changed what I write about so completely, who knows how I can benefit from the class on senses. I always appreciated her in depth critiques. No one can hold a candle to Martha's critiques though for thoroughness. Nick's are oh-so-terse and journalistic. His classes teach me a bit but have greater value in the assignments and the outside lectures, last quarter from Gary Luke, publisher of Sasquatch and last week's talk by Brier Dudley, Seattle Times editor, who was encouraging and fun to talk with.

Page or Curtis or someone said recently that all of my classes are tax deductible. There's a good excuse, i.e. including the ten days in Nicaragua? Well, all right. I was thinking but I haven't published but that doesn't really matter for five years or so. You can just keep deducting without selling anything at least that long as I understand it.

So I'll keep taking the classes awaiting that lucid cry to "lean back," meanwhile enjoying each one immensely and continuing my daily scribbling, Or, as Michael would say, fuck the money,