Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Creative Writing

Back in October 2007, in a certain online magazine article , the following statement was made about me.

"The guy is clearly not a writer." (My brother John makes sure to point that out to me whenever he gets a chance.)

I appreciate the fact that Poop and Boogies got the attention that it did and the writer of the article, Lisa Cullen, did say some nice things about the blog, but that one statement stuck with me (maybe because John's reminders).

I started this blog four years ago as a way for people to stay in touch with me and my family. I never set out to be a writer. I have found that I have fun with the feedback of the blogging medium. I like telling stories. I enjoy writing.

A few weeks ago I started taking a creative writing course at the local high school's adult evening school. Why? Well, I want to be a better writer for this blog. Which is funny because I have been spending all my free writing time working on the assignments that I have not had much time to post here. It is a bad cycle. I want to improve my blog, so I take a class that sucks up all my time, that I neglect the blog I want to improve by taking a writing class.

Here is what I have learned so far from the creative writing course.

1. There really is nothing creative about it. It is more like a grammar 101 type of course. Which, believe me, I need all the help I can get in the grammar department but I thought the class was going to be more of a creative exchange of ideas and what not.

2. I really need to improve my word choices in my writing.

3. I make a terrible student. Not because I don't listen or pay attention but because I moan and sigh and get frustrated with the way the teacher teaches. She talks down to people as if they should already know the answer to her questions or criticism. Which cracks me up because if a student knew all the answers they would not feel a need to be taking a course and would not be in the room to have the teacher talk down to them. If they have a bad experience they may not take another class and then they will forget what they learned and have to take a class again. Another a bad cycle.

4. I hate when the rhythm of a class comes to a screeching halt because the teacher has to make sure the slowest student is "getting" what she is teaching. I call it teaching to the lowest common denominator. I can't stand it.

5. I need to learn to edit my writings (I may go through my archives and edit some of the posts to sharpen them up).

6. I hate being the lowest common denominator.

7. Back to the grammar- I get the importance of grammar. I have a basic understanding of grammar, punctuation and syntax. I know that this is an area in my writing that needs improvement. That being said, I do not find grammar jokes funny. The jokes are not at any one person's expense, they were just "humorous" stories shared by the instructor and other people in the class about improper use of a comma, apostrophe or a word. They giggled and chuckled the whole time. I didn't get it. I equate grammar humor to making women watch the Three Stooges and asking if they thought it was funny. Women don't get the Moe, Larry and Curly.

8. If I can work on numbers 2 and 5 as well as punctuation and grammar I will have a solid backbone, foundation if you will, to be an okay writer.

I hope when the course is over I can take what I have learned and apply it to my writing here. I hope that I can improve my blog and maybe get some advertisers or other people interested in actually paying me some money for the use of some sidebar space. I can then use that money to take another course to learn about search engine optimization and RSS feeds and HTML and other web stuff (which I really need help with this stuff) so I can improve their advertising impressions. And when I take the course I will neglect their ad space because I am busy trying to learn about web advertising. Another Bad cycle.

Actually, I hope to improve Poop and Boogies just so people will come back and read some more. Maybe I will get another four years out this here blog. And maybe, one day, someone will say "This guy is clearly an okay writer."

39 comments:

Tori Spelling said...

Drop this class!!! Your teacher blows. You absolutely must already know that creative writing has nothing at all to do with grammar. Grammar is for editors.
I hate writing teachers who think that writing is about mechanics rather than the excitement of getting and shaping ideas on paper. Your teacher is a beeatch. Yeah. Look that up in spellcheck, beeatch.

Melinda said...

This sounds like a version of writer begats.
You don't need creative writing classes. I like your writing.

Mama-Bear said...

**sigh**
Another teacher who makes it harder for the rest of us.

I, for one, have always enjoyed your writing. I had very critical instructors over the years who molded me into their own image. Your writing is fresh and fun. It is easy to read, not crowded with unnecessary words. The best part: it always has a punch line.

You don't need this class unless you are feeling self-conscious. By the way, there are enough websites out there that you don't need to take a class on RSS feeds, etc. It's all free and waiting for you to explore!

Write on!

Midwest Mommy said...

I totally think your teacher sucks! Seriously? She teaches? That's nuts.

Kelly said...

I am taking a creative writing course at this exact moment, through a community college...so it is probably pretty similar. The best thing? It is an online course.

Anyway, he has us working on 'showing' instead of 'telling' through imagery. His favorite quote is: Mark Twain said it best: “Don’t tell your reader the old lady was upset—bring her onstage and let her scream her head off right in front of the audience.”

Shane Harmony said...

I really enjoy your blogs William. I like your conversational style of writing. It makes this all the more personal and real. To me it's an accomplishment to be able to express yourself in a way that makes the reader feel they've been invited into your home and are getting a very honest look at life. Everything you talk about is relatable, and you really do add so much humor to your stories!!! They're so great!

It's good to use the constructive criticism and grow from it, but remember if you listen to the bad stuff than balance it with the good too. :)

But those are just my thoughts....

Thank you for your stories!

Shane Harmony said...

Cheers to Kelly... GREAT quote! Very true!

Ali said...

Seriously, I laugh out loud at almost every post of yours. Those people have no idea what a good writer is.

tricki_nicki said...

No one cares if you're a writer or a professional wrestler. If you're funny and interesting, peolpe will read it. Ya know?

Michelle said...

# 4 is called the No Child Left Behind Act & it's rather annoying to me too!

I like your writing!

Maria from NJ said...

Poo on "that magazine" and "that brother"! You are a storyteller and what's a few misplaced commas here and there?

Barb said...

Well, let's see, we all know that Lisa Cullen must be the world's authority on who IS "clearly a writer"..? Actually her comment was way off base. You are definitely "A Writer" if you attract and retain readers with your style and your stories, aren't you? Some grammar lessons may be useful, but don't agonize over grammar to the point you are over-analyzing your writing, and therefore ruin it! Let the writer tell the story and let the editor worry about grammar and spelling.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your writing, especially when you use the phrase " and what not" It is a phrase used only by Jedi masters

Anonymous said...

Don't take the class. Most of my comments come from your typos and grammatical mistakes.

teri said...

I like your writing, too. I never have a problem with the way you write and your sentence structure and spelling always seem good, to me.

Anonymous said...

I find that "rinse" , "a Yamaha 450" and "Pop" are all bad cycles.

Katie said...

Who is this Lisa chick and what does she know? You have many readers who love your writing!

I've been reading your blog for YEARS. I love your stories. :)

littlebluerambler said...

QUIT the stoopid class!!

Charity Donovan said...

I come here for a good laugh...NOT PROPER GRAMMAR! Keep on keepin' on!!!

Charity Donovan said...

You might want to brush up & take a math class (wink! wink!) 2 + 1 = 3 Kids under your nutrition facts. Oh being a critical teacher is kind of fun...maybe we'll do this again sometime...JUST JOKING!!! I love your blog...DON'T CHANGE A THING!!!

Bogart in P Towne said...

You clearly are not a writer, but your typing is nice.

And Claire gets the 3 Stooges...she owned DVD's of them prior to my arrival.

BunnyBear said...

As a former high school English teacher, I have to also give you a "thumbs up". Although it's nice to brush up on grammar or create a foundation, please be sure that you don't lose your style in the process. Your voice is what draws people here, I would'nt screw around with it too much.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog while "working" one day. I enjoyed reading what you had to say and your blog is now added to my "favorites." I didn't add your blog because of your use of proper grammar. I read it cuz you make me laugh!

Whit said...

Grammar jokes is stupid.

Roger said...

I enjoy reading your blog so much, That I shall now de-lurk myself and write a comment.

Now I just wish I had something witty to say.

movin' down the road said...

I would never go back to school. It's too humbling.

Diane said...

For a couple years, I sent out regular e-mails to my sisters and a couple friends. Then I got a blog going, and had to shape my story for folks who don't know me in real life but kept coming back to read anyway.

Then I took a writing class at the community college.
My sister and a friend say that my story-telling humor went downhill after the class, and they would like for the ME of the past to shine again.

It seems you have come upon the same situation.

Stay as you are, and you will go far.

MrsDoF

Anonymous said...

You have found your Super Hero name. "The Lowest Common Denominator" LCD. I like it a lot.

RzDrms said...

um, (1) clearly, you are an okay writer, but i'm not an editor of a famous online mag, so maybe my opinion doesn't matter; (2) while you may not be a (paid) writer, you are a writer, but more importantly, you are one of the BEST storytellers i've ever read; (3) i'm not too keen on this "creative writing class" that may inappropriately color your blog and writing in ways that screws up the awesomeness that we've come to love, expect, and enjoy over these last four years; (4) sh*t, even your writing, grammar, and punctuation have improved in this post (HA, John!), and frankly, i'm not recognizing this guy; (5) i like the old p&b, his mom09, and his wife, as is; (6) the end; (7) p.s., i owe you, like, three e-mails...SORRY!

kcinnova said...

Kelly's Mark Twain quote is perfect. You do that, you know -- bring on the screaming blogger and let us have it. I wouldn't have followed you home from Susie's if you weren't worth reading. Sounds like you should drop this class and go back to telling us funny stories.

Sue said...

I think you are awesome. 'Nuff said.

Mindy said...

When I write my blog, I purposely don't write like I write, if you know what I mean. If I notice a mistake, I will go back and correct it, but I try to blog like I think...sort of stream of consciousness. Lol. I think you write pretty good, by the way.

JP said...

Dude, how many great writers took night writing courses? It's like throwing a baseball, you cannot really teach it, you just do it.

sari said...

Funny how that works, the trying to improve something by doing something else and then not having time for the thing you wanted to improve in the first place...though I agree, I don't think you need a writing class.

I do disagree with #7, however. I grew up on The Three Stooges and Bugs Bunny. When you look at it, are pretty similar, and pretty d&mn funny.

Ern said...

Your writing is already creative!

BTW, never read "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves". And no, I don't get the Three Stooges at all.

kalki said...

Wow, I really admire you for taking a creative writing class. I always think it's awesome when people take the initiative to learn something new or expand their skills.

But dude, you are a fantastic writer. You have such a great sense of what connects with readers, which is the whole point of writing. Within the small space of a post, you develop plot, bring us to care about characters, and make us reflect on our own lives. That's writing - GREAT writing.

I think Lisa Cullen saw some missed commas or one awkward sentence and made an assumption. For what it's worth, your grammar is impeccable in this post.

I'm not saying you won't learn something from the class, because there's always more to learn. But maybe you should amp up your goals a bit, because you are already WAY past "okay writer."

Anonymous said...

You got it right! I don't get Moe, Larry and Curly! Never did and don't want to. Creative is just that! Whatever comes from that processed thought and put to paper with pen or pencil or keypad. You do it right... From the heart, from the brain, from the experience. I like grammar, but the thought is most important. Keep up the good work, when you become famous, someone else can edit your grammar for print. Till then keep postin'. I love you.

The Outlet said...

I'd read your blog even if you weren't in that creative writing class. I have always "gotten" grammar and it is important to a degree, but I even more so agree with "Tori Spelling" -- you should tell your teacher to blow it out her blow hole.

Chino said...

First time visiting your blog and I see nothing wrong with your writing. Creative writing classes blow.