A Couple of Reasons to Take a Class

writing

There are tons of excellent reasons to take classes, including:

  • You can learn something;
  • You can improve a skill you already had;
  • You can meet people who are interested in the same things as you;
  • You can have fun.

Another reason, less frequently touted, is this: you might write something that gets published and earns you a few bucks.

applause

Quick backstory: last winter, it occurred to me that I hadn’t done any formal work on the craft of writing in an uncomfortably long time. I’ve always enjoyed school, but between work, writing my first novel, querying agents, starting my second novel, cats, family obligations, social life, and a thousand other things, the actual study of writing had slipped through the cracks.

This might not be a problem for some people, but for me, studying is a way to improve the craft. Writing is obviously the biggest way to improve, and reading books about writing is also useful, but there’s something about a class or conference that helps me address specific problems in my work.

One area where I’ve long struggled is creating an ending that’s both unexpected and inevitable. So when I received an email from Catapult offering an online class called “The Earned Surprise,” I was intrigued even though I’d never taken an online class and didn’t know the teacher, Zulema Renee Summerfield. I checked my bank balance and took a deep breath. A few mouse clicks later, I was a student in an eight-week online class.

leap

The class began in January. About midway through the month, I experienced some health issues, including a bronchial infection that, for three days, left me too worn out to do anything more than watch television. I ended up binge-watching “Mom.” I thought I knew Allison Janney from “The West Wing,” but this was an entirely different side of her. She and Anna Faris were snappy, hilarious, and sometimes poignant as they navigated their relationship, family, and recovery.

More importantly, after three days of living with them, their voices were firmly entrenched in my brain. So when Zulema posted an assignment—write an entire story in a single sentence—I was primed. The character who gushed out of my keyboard was a blend of the “Mom” women; either could have made this speech without taking a breath.

I posted the story on the class website, gathered some feedback, and edited. A few months later, I read it for a small audience. A few more tweaks, and I sent it off to Intrinsick, an online magazine–and today, my story was published.

Traffic Stop

traffic-stop - artwork on intrinsick

Unlike a lot of journals, Intrinsick pays its writers. The payment was in my account this morning. Real money. Just for doing my homework.

So, those are two reasons to take a class–publication and cash. And here’s one more:

You might be inspired to try something you’d never have thought of on your own.

 

Submitting Stories: A Few Thoughts

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This afternoon, I woke from a nap and checked my email (as one does). Among the messages, two stood out.

One was a very kind rejection from a literary magazine.

The other was an acceptance from Intrinsick, an online literary journal.

Continue reading

Favorites

front door with autumn wreath

Over the past several days, I had occasion to be involved in a conversation about favorites.

The person who asked the initial question, a relative newcomer to the group, began a thread asking people to identify their favorite stories in the subject fandom. Her intention was to spark discussion. In this she succeeded brilliantly. Continue reading

Frozen

ice

Last weekend, I did something unusual: I ate breakfast at the coffee shop near my house. Continue reading

17th Time’s the Charm

It’s a numbers game, they tell us. It’s all subjective, they say. Rejection isn’t personal. It doesn’t mean anything. Keep trying. You never know.

Charlotte - tongue

Continue reading

Something Good

Rosie 9-11-19

Today, author Colleen Brunetti posed this request on her Facebook page: as we remember September 11, 2001, with all its darkness and tragedy, please post something good. She didn’t ask for an exhaustive list, and she didn’t place any limits. It didn’t have to be specific to 9/11. Just something good. Continue reading

Refilling

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Somewhere, amid the darkness,
a painter measures a blank canvas,
a poet tests a line aloud,
a songwriter brings a melody into tune.
Art inspires, provokes thought, reflects beauty and pain.
I seek it out even more in these times.
And in so doing, I find hope in the human spirit.

~ Dan Rather (via Twitter)

* * * *

The past couple of weeks have been unusually insane.

From the delightful (taking a dear friend out for his birthday), the exciting (joining a new singing group) and the thrilling (some news you’ll hear about in a later post), to the aggravating (a longtime client who was refusing to honor his promise to pay me at the agreed-upon time), the heartbreaking (my elderly aunt, who lives about 500 miles away and may be in her final days), the frustrating (an as-yet-unscheduled meeting, the scheduling of which I cannot control in any way), and the stressful (a brief to be prepared according to unfamiliar rules and filed in a court I’ve never dealt with), it’s been a whirlwind. So, on Friday night, when I finally received confirmation that the brief had been filed, I declared a holiday weekend. (Since I worked most of Labor Day weekend, I viewed it as comp time.) Continue reading