This last fall semester I took my first ever writing class, which was labeled as an Autobiography class, but turned out to be more of a write-a-short-memoir class, aka creative nonfiction. Now some of you cool kids might be frowning slightly, thinking this post is not for you because you think that nonfiction is not for you, but I am writing this to prove you otherwise, and not that you owe me anything or anything, but I definitely have my own two cents to give on the matter. So without further ado here is a list of things Kateri thinks about her first (creative nonfiction) writing class.
1. This class is a writing class, therefore you will write, but you will also write creatively. (Unless your professor specifically says that it will in fact be a research, factual based auto-biography class. Hint: if it says “creative writing” anywhere in the class description this is probably not the case.) Basically, I was writing actual stories from my actual life, but in a thoughtful and creative sort of way.
2. The material that we used was great…for all writers! And something I really liked about it in the long run was the stress it put on telling stories that happened to you, about telling stories truthfully, which, once you get into the groove of it, can be surprisingly liberating. But what I’m really trying to say here is that the first chapter we read was about making time to write and finding your inspiration on a daily basis, even when inspiration doesn’t come to you, which is something that all writers can and must use! So just because a writing course doesn’t seem like your course, it doesn’t mean there won’t be anything that will apply to you as a writer, and especially doesn’t mean that you won’t learn anything.
3. You—yes, YOU—have stories. I believe the second chapter we focused on was all about dealing with the problem of “but I don’t have any stories. My life isn’t interesting!” Well, guess what? It is! Trust me I ran into that problem like probably a dozen times a week, but still I had a finished piece to workshop every time with many thanks to our weekly writing exercises, which if it’s a good creative writing class it SHOULD HAVE! Your juices are always flowing and being challenged and the best part is that you’re in an environment where people actually want to read your stuff. Because they all know your pain and they all love stories.
4. In light of that point, there was something very powerful I learned in taking this nonfiction class and to better explain why I think this, I will say that we liked to call the class Unpacking our Traumas 101. Basically, everyone in that class let everything out of the bag, and I know a lot more about drug and alcohol abuse now than I did before, but that’s not what I’m trying to say made the class so great because there were stories about rare diseases, divorces, bad dates, childhood memories, even a comical one about bringing a gun to school! But people, the point here is that all these learning writers felt comfortable enough to share those intimate stories in a very intimate setting, one where you were exposing yourself in all your metaphorical nakedness to what is likely a room full of strangers. And in the end, it’s awesome! Seriously, we had our portfolios turned in before finals so we just had a total party! But having the opportunity to tap into my own deeply personal and vulnerable stories, many of which I didn’t even know were actual stories before, was so, so wonderful! I felt that by the end, my self-worth not only as a writer but as a person was greatly uplifted.
5. Lastly, and in all practicality: deadlines. You definitely have some deadlines in this kind of class that are not only important for your writing but for your grade, and I don’t think you wanna miss those. Got attention-span/I just don’t feel like it problems? Then nuff said.
5. Ok, now lastly, I am taking a fiction writing class and now having really learned the importance of writing what you know, I’m already thankful I took a class about writing memoir.
Here’s to deadlines!
Here’s to becoming a better writer!
Here’s to realizing that WE ALL have stories!!!