I bought an on-line course in creative writing from the Centre Of Excellence. It was only $30 so I said, “Why not?” Then my sister said, “Are you talking to yourself again?” Moving on…
So far it’s made me think of my writing differently after the first lesson. I had to develop a summary of a story, which is quite interesting. I think I’ve always done that, but being a new writer it’s good to see what I’m actually thinking of in print. It helps put things in their proper context and is a great starting point. I was instantly amazed at what I came up with. I knew what I was writing about, I guess, but usually it’s all in my head, and by the time I get to writing I forget a lot of things. This summary thing is, to coin a phrase, a real game changer (God I hate certain phrases. They seem in-genuine). But I digress…
So I had to come up with five different summaries based on a news story. Not the story itself, but a start that becomes something else. For example, I read a story in the BBC News about how there will be a boom on writers once the pandemic is over. I changed it to this:
Writers will face a weird boom during the corona virus pandemic. They will also face increased competition as everyone begins writing blogs and fan-zines, flooding the market with stories. One such home writer is Lidia. She hopes to get her stories out there, but faces an uphill battle against the numerous other writers who write for fun and profit, filling the market with whatever filth, fantasy, and fiction they can dream of.
Simple enough, right? I wanted to convey that being a writer post-pandemic is becoming way too easy for anyone and everyone. The pandemic kept everyone home so to kill time they took to writing and flooded the market with every little story, from great to good to bad to gross and beyond. My protagonist Lidia however is a great writer and hopes to make it big one day, but because of the inundation of crap that’s out there it’s hard for her to get noticed, especially because of e-books, fanzines, instagrams and tweets, and a host of other media.
That was the start. Now I have to write a title and first paragraph, and make it compelling. I could have chosen one of the other summaries but something about this one struck a chord in me. Maybe because she’s a writer? Who knows? So…
Who shall I kill off first, Lidia thought to herself. SometimesÂ she gets herselfÂ so involved and worked up over her characters that decisions like this become really difficult. She sat at her desk with her feet up, sipping Sprite through a straw. The single desk lamp threw light across her frame, just enough to see that she was a thin young lady wearing red gym shorts and a tank top. Her cap hid her hair giving her a boyish look, and her sunglasses hid her eyes. This was her focusing pose, and it helped her more times than not. So what if her friends think she’s weird for wearing sunglasses in the dark. They’re still her friends, like her room mate who just burst in and invited her down to the quad to meet with other friends. She loved Lidia’s characters and hated to see them die. “It’s just a story” Lidia would say, but Tasha felt for them anyway. Lidia’s biggest fan; she would gorge herself on her stories, and then cry when this person or that would either die or get hurt.
I hope that’s compelling enough. The other summaries involved a picture of a woman looking down a road. I had to do three for that. One involved a woman with special abilities, another about a robbery, and the third about a cult. I decided to do the paragraph about Lidia cuz she’s cute. See what I did there, I gave my character life. I may continue this story. I don’t know yet. Looking at it it seems more like a book than a short story, full of drama, pain, excitement, disappointment. You know, a tour de force (again with the lame phrases).
Anyway, it’s good to see it written down. It gives me hope, but mostly it makes me happy. It just does. Perhaps I will be the kind of writer that writes for himself. I could become the next great novelist. Or I could become a mediocre voice in a sea of voices. Whatever happens, I will enjoy my stories immensely, if for no one else but me. A piece of advice that was offered to me was to write for someone else. I’ll do that, but in the end I have no one to please but me. I hope this doesn’t make me a selfish writer. But I think that even if people don’t like my work I will still write.