Last night I was on my way to my first ever Short Story lesson and I felt a pang in my stomach. I started feeling very shit about myself…maybe because I’m coming on but I felt really low…. that was until I got there xD
Start of the Lesson
As I settled in my seat those thoughts soon diminished. I was 5 minutes late to the lesson and hurried in and sat in the closest seat possible to the door. The teacher was already making her introductions and we were instructed to write our names on a plack. She was a tall, slender and sophisticated woman who was wearing very autumnal colours; a tweed jacket, bottle green trousers and tucked in socks.
We were made to talk to each other in groups of 3 and later we had to introduce each other instead of ourselves. Within my group was a guy who owned an Acting organisation that helps people to build confidence who wanted to improve on his writing and a Romanian lady who worked in a Charity shop. She hadn’t written anything before but was hoping to improve her written English. As we went around the table introducing each other we got a sense of why we were all here which was “to improve on story writing skills”.
B the Teacher was amazing. She was witty, hilarious, smart and also very tongue in cheek. She immediately picked on A who wasn’t able to provide printed copies of her future work and they both engaged in a verbal battle which was SO FUNNY!
There was a guy who loved storytelling. His family told him to get those stories written down and so here he was. M was a lovely smiley woman who just put pen to paper and it would come pouring out and another who has been writing for years and years and been to the previous classes. Apparently, I had turned up to an intermediate class – ah wells, I like to push myself anyway.
Every single person was such a character. They were all around 60+ ? The Romanian woman must have been in her 40s but I was by far the youngest person in the room.
After a much long introduction on Story Writing and the rules and structure of the class, we were told we all had to Submit our stories twice in the 5 weeks to everyone to be critiqued!! So we were given a task of reading a short story called Cathedral by Raymond Carver and then writing 1300 words on either 1. About a person who feels isolated and left out because of something about him whether it be mental, physical etc 2. A story in the voice of the narater making specific use of one of the 5 senses that you don’t usually rely on.
This sounded kinda hard but I mean I’ll give it a shot!
First Task in class.
The first task we were given about 20 minutes to write down all the things that are embarrassing, painful or just anything that your mind conjures when feeling a strong emotion. I wrote down… many things lol. Then we had to write a story based on those emotions it didn’t matter what it just mattered that you wrote something from it. She said you don’t have to show anyone it EVER. So I got writing about the woman who comit suicide because of my dad. It’s pretty deep but I wrote the story through her eyes in her last hours of her life. It was quite tragic lol but I found this task quite easy. Easy as in… I didn’t stop writing and the time was up and I hadn’t finished putting my thoughts into words!
The second task was to think of an object, any object, that you remember clearly that’s prominent to you and describe it. I found this one more difficult as when you finish writing about everything you start remember other little details that you try to add on and then it doesn’t make sense. Well, I wrote about a Yo-Yo. A fad in school 🙂
3 Elements of Narrative Structure
- Exposition – Time, place, background info, names of character, topic, make the story make sense, the ‘stuff’ of the story.
- Complication – ‘Moves the story on’, an argument, political, gives rise to conflict, pushes action, can be subtle (conspiracy), internal battles, illness, natural disasters etc
- Resolution – Resolves conplication. Must include main character.
Being in my class made me realise loneliness isn’t being alone. It isn’t a thing you can eradicate by surrounding yourself with things, people, busy schedules. It’s a feeling you get when you feel misunderstood and when you don’t act your true self. Being in this room, I felt happy. I was surrounded by people who were interested in the exact same things as me. People who expressed themselves through a form of art – naturally. I never really spoke to any of them apart from the inital task we had but I felt happy, motivated and inspired by being around people who loved what they do despite not being amazing at it. I love people who are passionate about something in life and has something that eggs them on. I don’t know why but I just love people who have something they really love or enjoy that’s unique to them. They interest me and I enjoy hearing about whatever it is. It sounds bad like I discredit those who don’t have hobbies or don’t do anything because we all know those are the people who are more mentally healthy and have found true happiness (the art of relaxing and just being). But for me, I’ve never felt like I could click with those people however much in common I have with them 🙁
It made me realise that even when I have a shit day these classes actually pick me up. You know that feeling of being in the zone? The one you get where you’re doing something you love so much that time doesn’t exist and you’re just there loving it up! That’s how I feel. I don’t think about the 10001 annoying pointless things going through my mind I’m right there in the moment.
I think a lot about myself. I’ve realised I spend most of my ‘personal’ time with elderly people. Everyone in Rifle club is retired, old and posh. I volunteer and spend a lot of time with a very funny 84 year old. People in my Piano class are a lot older than me and now the people in my Story writing class are also about 30 years older than me.
Why do I have the same hobbies as OAPs? Why do I find it so hard to connect to people my age DESPITE having so much in common? I really don’t know. I’m starting to think I have some social disorders. I know I most likely have mental health problems (not sure what but there’s definitely something wrong there lol) but yeah…. Ah wells. This is what makes me happy. An awesome teacher really DOES change the class dynamic. I’m so freakin’ excited about this story writing class!