Saturday, November 20, 2010

EEK! Adrien Exposed

Sharing fiction writing is like walking along the shoreline and jumping into the crashing waves jubilantly and carefree, feeling the power of the water push you back as the sand rushes beneath your feet. It’s liberating and refreshing and fun. And as the mighty water pulls back it’s ebbing wave, you close your eyes, breath deep, and smile in sweet satisfaction...only to look down and realize moments later that the dress you're wearing is totally not waterproof and it's a long walk back in front of everyone to the safe haven of your car.

Sharing fiction writing is like cracking open your heart and letting your innermost thoughts and wonderings and dreams ooze out into a cold, unforgiving world where it will be battered and beaten and whipped into a meringue of judgment - lemon meringue judgment.

Its exposure, friends. Pure exposure. And that’s why people like me have absolutely no problems whipping out blog posts left and right and publishing them for friends and strangers alike to read at will. But ask me if you can leaf through any of the old notebooks of stories stashed away under the bed and I’ll laugh at you. Right achya. Right in your face.

My junior year of college. You can't see it, but I'm at my computer...writing. :)

Do you realize how many notebooks have been filled in my lifetime? Do you know how many stories and songs and movie scripts and television shows and plays and novels and poems have been crafted in the wee hours of the morning since I was in the third grade…well, of course you don’t. I don’t even know. It’s a lot! A lot, a lot. And how many people have read any of those things? One single solitary person, and that would be me.

Non-fiction writing has always come easily to me. I was never intimated by college coursework…twenty page papers on Shakespeare? Pssh. Hour long written presentation on the etymology of the world “nice?” Child’s play. I was an English major for crying out loud…I laughed when I heard people complaining about their four papers in one class for a semester. What?? Try four papers in one week for one class…easily a dozen total. Ask any of my college roommates, and they’ll tell ya. I was always on the darn computer typing away. But it was not a problem, I could handle it. Done and done.

College roomies! 

But fiction…my love, my passion, my hobby…that just makes me nervous. Here’s a little non-fiction tale about some fiction for ya:

My senior year of college I had finally graduated from the obligatory “Age of Shakespeare” and “British Literature” and I could finally take the courses that I had been longing for. Classes with titles like, “Feature and Magazine Writing” and “ Writing Fiction and Poetry.” Yesss…I could not WAIT to get graded for something that I already loved to do.  This was what college was supposed to be all about.

More college fun. Good times...good times...

I quickly fell in love with my Fiction and Poetry class. Dr. Shaw, I loved your class, dude. I mean, sir. I never knew what crazy thing we were going to be set to do next. One day, as soon as we had all assembled into our second-story classroom in Marston Hall, Dr. Shaw told us to pack up our things and walk to the local cemetery. “Sit in front of a gravestone and write,” he said. And that’s exactly what we did. And from that assignment came a really intricately woven tale about an old couple I had found buried side by side, which left me walking from that hollowed ground hiding tears on my shirtsleeve.

Or there was the day that we were forced to spy on people. “Find someplace on campus and eavesdrop on someone’s conversation. Use their words as dialogue and inspiration for your next story.” Cool.  But it was the day that we were assigned the “song story” that leaves me chilled to the bone. I’ll never forget it. *Shiver.*

We had a writing prompt that went a little something like this, “The first time (insert character’s name here) heard the song (insert song title here) they….” Well, hmm. That’s a little vague. So I sat in my drafty college house dorm room pondering and pondering what in the world I was going to do for this one.  And finally I decided to break the one rule I had set myself for this class, and I started typing a love story. And oh boy, was it something. Something straight from a Taylor Swift bubble gum boy-girl saccharinely sweet love story. The writing wasn’t bad, but I was slightly embarrassed by the content.

College 2005. Exposed. AKA: How I felt about my "Song Story."

So I printed out my tale, carried it off to class, took my seat, and Dr. Shaw said the words that he often said to us, “Trade stories with someone and let’s read.” Fine. I didn’t want to, but I did it. The totally nerdy guy sitting next to me (sorry, guy, but you knew you were nerdy) took my sacred papers and began to read. This wouldn’t be so bad…he wouldn’t tell anyone. Who would he tell? But then after only a minute had passed, my dear professor told us all to stop.

“You’ve all gotten to read the very beginning of someone’s story,” he said. “Who in here is reading something so good, so riveting, that they really want to keep reading more?” I knew where this was going. I had sat in this classroom for weeks by now. And surely nerdy guy was not going to raise his hand.

Nerdy guy raised his hand. Nerdy guy was the only person raising his hand…because the rest of us knew what was coming next and we did not want to subject a fellow classmate to it. Nerdy guy did not get the memo. “Whose paper do you have there?” asked Dr. Shaw. “Hers,” said nerdy guy, pointing at me. I could tell this dude really thought he was giving me a compliment here. He was so proud of himself; meanwhile, I’m slinking lower and lower in my seat.

“Ah, Adrien!” says Dr. Shaw. “Why don’t you come up here and read your story for the class!”

Wonderful. I took the paper back from my geek partner and slowly made the walk of shame to the front of the room. I stood in front of my peers with what I knew was total crap content in my hands. Lovey dovey mushy gushy crap. And these were not just any peers, mind you. This room was filled with guys from the most well known campus bands, artsy girls that were known for their writing and performing, all upper classmen, all staring at ME.

And I read. I could have used a spoonful of sugar to help the utter mortification go down, but I made it through without looking up once. I finished my story just as class was ending, walked back to my seat head down, and had to listen as Dr. Shaw spent our last few minutes dissecting my story and asking for feedback.

I cannot even tell you how many times I was stopped that afternoon and winked at. Holy moly. My worst fear was realized on that day. Writing fiction? It’s dangerous stuff, I tell you, dangerous stuff.

College 2007. On our way to a concert, I'm sure. :)

But I miss it. I miss it terribly. Blogging is super fun, but it doesn’t challenge me in the same ways. I want to dive back into fiction. Only this time, I want to write something that I know someone will actually read. And for the first time in my life, I think I might be ready to do that.

So in the coming days, if I feel up to it or find the time, you might be seeing a little fiction around here for a change. Just because I feel like it. I’m not making any promises, but I’m just warning you that the bug is back. I’m being nagged by the writing mosquito, and it’s leaving bites that won’t let me forget. 


Anonymous said...

I'm ready and looking forward to reading your crafty work.


Cassie said...

You shoud do children's books! I think you would be awesome at that. You have nothing to sit and slip down your chair about. You have an awesome gift, show it off!!


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