One of my beliefs is that you're never too good at anything to stop learning. This is why I'm always taking jewelry classes and reading up on new jewelry making techniques. And this is why I've signed up for a memoir writing class.
When I told my friends that I'm taking this class, a few were like, "Why? You wrote for a magazine and have a novel out. You're always writing blogs. You can probably teach the class." While their statements are very flattering, I disagree. I've never written a memoir. It's one thing to write a blog post or short essay about my life; it's another thing to write an entire book. I signed up for this class assuming that I know very little about writing memoirs -- and I was right.
I've only had one session so far, but I can tell that it's going to be a tough course. I signed up for it for "fun," but there are frequent deadlines, assignments and critiques. Our first in-class assignment was to write about 10 memorable moments in our lives, moments that changed us forever. I thought that I came up with 10 decent ones, but as we went around the class sharing our work, I realized that I hadn't quite zeroed in enough on the moments. The instructor noted that my descriptions were too vague and that I needed to focus on everything that happened in that one second of change. It was an hour into the class and I was already being told what I could do to improve!
As we went around the class introducing ourselves, I learned that many of my classmates are true survivors. Some have overcome drug addiction, rape and mental illness. They have tragic and fascinating things to write. I'm very, very, very glad that I haven't experienced any of these things, but from a writer's point of view, I'm not sure that my life is that interesting. For the few parts that are "interesting," I'm a little reluctant to share them. I've been pretty open on this blog about my writing and publishing experiences, but it's another thing to share your deep, dark secrets with the world. For now, I think I'm going to work on a memoir draft simply for the sake of learning to write. Perhaps I'll publish something in the future.
After class, I went into a bit of a panic as I thought about the impending deadlines. Also scary is the idea of getting critiqued by committee. When it's your turn to have your work commented on, you have to sit there and listen -- and can't say anything. I HATE that; it makes me feel kind of vulnerable. I don't mind receiving criticism, but I enjoy discussing it. It helps me have a better idea of how to improve.
I still have some reservations about this class, but I completed my first assignment and we'll see how it goes. I'm not getting graded for my work, though the idea of once again having writing deadlines is making me anxious. I had a long talk with some friends who've encouraged me to stick with it. It's only ten classes total and if I hate it, I don't *have* to stay.
For now, I plan to stick it out because I really think that I can learn something. I have some friends who've taken the class and ended up loving it. Perhaps I will, too.
Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.