I want to be a REALLY good writer

This is my fourth post about taking a writing class with Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew at the Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISE).

Journal Entry from Thursday, August 1, 2013

August… How can this be?!

One true month of summer left, if we’re lucky. In the Midwest, the length of summer is a crapshoot. Last year though, we went straight from summer to winter and skipped Fall altogether.

Yesterday’s magic was waking up to the sound of rain and distant thunder. The rain was polite enough to stop and the clouds to move out of my way by the time I walked to the barn for breakfast.

In the evening, the whole class went to “The Pub” for dinner. I had “Simply Done Whitefish” with champagne beurre blanc and a glass of Cabernet. It may have been simply done but I felt ‘fancy.’

(And yes, it’s all about the food.)

For dessert, we stood down by Lake Superior and watched the sun set. The wind was cold and strong and if I still had long hair, it would have been waving and snapping like a flag behind me. The waves bumped and rubbed against each other in their hurry to reach the shore, creating a perfect lullaby to accompany the sun as it took it’s final bow.

Today the wind is quiet, but I can feel it’s chill coming through the window. There’s a grasshopper outside, who keeps flying up into the air, then dropping to the ground. When in flight, his wings make a sound like rapid applause.

Despite the peace of my surroundings, I am tense about my class this morning, which is silly.

“You don’t have to do your homework perfectly, Maery,” I tell myself, then throw in a “relax dear” for good measure.

We are supposed to have three printed pages of a rough draft this morning to use for revision work. I, unfortunately, have seven pages that are on my computer, unprinted.

“It will be fine Maery, just fine. No rushing. No perfection. Just breathe.”

I read a portion of what I’d written to another classmate and I think I will approach my revision with her advise in mind —  “I want to see more you in the piece.”

I’d written so much about the man who was abusing me, in my desire to formulate his character to the reader, I’d forgotten that the story is really about me, not him. Or maybe I didn’t forget but shame made me not want to be in the limelight.

When I met with Elizabeth, in a sudden gush, I told her “What I really want is to be a really good writer,” and I realized the honest truth of that statement.

But what does it mean to be a really good writer? 

I know when I’ve hit the sweet spot and when I haven’t. And I want those ‘hits’ to happen more often, not by chance but because I’ve practiced until my skill is more than an impulsive jet of creative spew.

I enjoy the process of writing, the sheer pleasure of honing words. So whether I become REALLY good or just good, I’ll continue to enjoy the practice.

“Good writing creates not the fact that it’s raining, but the feel of being rained upon.” ~E.R. Doctorow

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One Comment

  1. It sounds like you learned and grew by leaps and bounds during your class. Writing has been a passion of yours ever since I started reading your blog, more than 4 years ago. I’m happy that you’re truly pursuing it, and are investing in learning more from great writers.

    BTW, this post is beautifully written. I could feel that wind and visualize the grasshoppers. Well done!

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