Sunday, November 1, 2009

Write Away Seminar: Class Presentations

OK, kids.
When I call on you, just stand up and make your presentation.

One author said, "It's easy being a writer. You just cut open a vein and bleed all over the paper."
That's what it feels like sometimes; but we want to do it, anyway. We wouldn't be participating in this class if we didn't want to write. So why is it so hard to do? Audrey?

"Fear is my main excuse. I am afraid that something that seems really funny or meaningful in my head will sputter and collapse and end up displayed for all to see as the inadequate and incomplete thought that comes out when I write. I will have exposed myself and be left standing while everyone points their fingers and laughs. Or worse, they will walk away bored and confused."

Judy? Your hand is raised:
"You reminded me of a book title that I quote all too often . . . 'Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?' The answer is . . . 'Because you may not like me.'"

It's interesting that we all feel that way. When I've written something light and witty I can't wait to get some feedback. I'll call Dee and read it to him over the phone, I'm so pleased with myself. I don't even care if he thinks it's dumb.

On the other hand, when I've poured out my heart on my blog, I often regret it the next day, feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. But, ironically, that's the kind of blog I like to read. When I read something sincere, it lets me know a writer is genuine. That's when I'm touched.

Some of the homework assignments these past weeks have been so brave and honest. I've read them with tears in my eyes, touched by the way a writer has opened her heart. I'll entice you with a couple of paragraphs, and you can click on the name for the whole presentation.
Heather wrote:
"I spun in my chair and angled my head to get a look. I had to see what they were all laughing about--why they were all laughing at me. My legs numbed. My stomach iced. I was betrayed. I couldn't understand how an adult could set up a kid for such humiliation. My ears burned, but that paled in comparison to the fire at the corners of my eyes. I searched the room like a hunted animal looking for a place to hide. I was painfully aware of everyone's eyes on me. I wanted to leave. I wanted to run. The tears came, and to my relief, the bell. In that instant I bolted out the door and locked myself in the oatmeal colored bathroom stall. In four minutes I'd have to go back in there. I didn't know what to do.

"I typically did well in school because I worked hard to earn recognition in class. I'd always tried to please my teachers. I had no fear. I'd try anything once, and I wasn't afraid to get up in front of the class or participate. This day changed everything. This was the day where I learned that not all teachers have a student's best interest at heart. Not all teachers are considerate. Not all adults are trustworthy. She hurt me at my core, and that day shaped me for the rest of my schooling."

Mrs Organic wrote this about her experience with panic attacks:
"As soon as the sun went down and my children were tucked in bed, I would wait while my gut would tighten, and I'd wonder if that night would bring the dreaded anxiety. Often, my heart would race as if I'd just taken a leap off a cliff and discovered my chute wouldn't open, fairly hammering out of my chest. At the same time it would feel as if all the air had suddenly been sucked from the room leaving a vacuum in my lungs and a heavy pressure on my rib cage. I would tremble violently as fear overtook me. My brain utterly deserted me. I knew that what I was feeling was coming from my own mind but I felt completely powerless to stop it.

"I spent many nights sitting on the cool, hard tile of our master bath, my back pressed to the wall, facing the closed door with the light on, and my scriptures open in my lap. I sobbed uncontrollably; I was so very afraid. I don't think Mr. O understood it, but he was very patient and very kind."

Isn't this what being a writer is all about? Sharing experiences, and trying to make sense of life? I think it's a way of supporting each other. It's a gift. We have a responsibility to train ourselves and practice our craft, so we can use it in a positive way.

Another favorite quote says "I love being a writer. It's the paperwork I can't stand."

Yes? Diane?
"Over the years I’ve found that I put off doing things I want to do until mundane chores are done, sort of like keeping dessert until last. One thing I’ve found is that if I do the fun things first, the other stuff usually gets done anyway. At least the stuff that really needs to get done. Now I just need to remember all that, and I’ll get more writing, reading, and quilting done. Hope springs eternal!"

Thanks for your contributions to class today!

Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.

~Your best friend just called and said, through her tears, "I know you've had experience with_____. What did you do?" What would she be calling about? Answer her question in a note.

~Write about a time you made a presentation of some kind. Were you nervous? Excited? Prompt: "After I was introduced, I stood up and said_____"

~Remember someone who poured out their heart to you. How did you feel towards them after hearing their story? Were you sympathetic? Shocked? Disgusted? Understanding?

Write away!

*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, please link it back to TravelinOma and provide proper attribution. Leave a comment here (with a link to your homework if you want to share it) and/or a link to your blog (so we can get to know you.) School Days has open enrollment so join anytime. No make-up work required! If you're new, click here for an orientation.


kenju said...

Thanks for the link, Marty. This is yet another excellent post. I'll have to think about it, but I do remember someone pouring out her heart to me - and my reaction to it. I'm just not sure I can write about it.

Tiffany said...

One of my favorite parts of your seminar has been finding other amazing bloggers to follow. These pieces are beautiful! Thanks to you (and them!) for sharing them.

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

OMGosh OMGosh OMGosh! Really? You quoted me? Shucks, I'm flattered! (I'm also lamenting the topic of yesterday's post and feeling a bit like I do when unexpected company comes over and my house isn't clean. Yipes!) But I am so flattered. You should know that I read faithfully, every single day, even though I haven't posted on one of the assignments in a long time. I enjoy your blog every day. I think you're a kindred spirit for me in your love of writing. Thanks for linking to me and thanks for the other great blogs to read. :) Have a great day!

Martha H. said...

I'm so glad you stopped by my blog. Us Marthas have to stick together.

crissy said...

This is killing me. I can't think of what to write... I'm thinking hard, hopefully I'll have something to show for myself before the night is over.

Diane Linford said...

I did the first option backwards. Sort of. It's been a long day...

wk 10 day 1

audrey said...

I am grateful to have such marvelous examples of meaningful subject matter and beautifully woven text to tell each story. Thank you all.


Alana said...

It is such a relief to realize other writers have writing regret. Nearly everything I write and post on my blog makes me cringe and squirm the next morning. It's like I get drunk and have a one night stand, awaking to someone who was much better looking the night before. (or so I imagine.) Occasionally, I even awake and delete the entire post. You have to be quick on your feet to catch all of my writing... it gets deleted practically as fast as it gets written.

Alana said...

Class Clown/ The Fainter

Get it while it's hot. It could very well be deleted before the sun rises tomorrow.

diane said...

We have some really gifted writers in this class. I love meeting new wise and wonderful women.

crissy said...

I did it! My humble offering.

dalene said...

it's good to get to know some of the other writers and read their various experiences and perspectives.

i have no idea why, but people often tell me things no one else knows. sometimes it's a heavy burden to bear. thanks for encouraging me to lay a little of it down on paper tonight.

Miranda said...

I love seeing what other people have written...such talent skipping around on this blog.

Mrs. Organic said...

Thanks for the link. I think I am back on the wagon. This post has got me wishing my blog was more anonymous so I could really dish

KJ said...

I can't believe I never did this one...but I will never forget a moment in my Freshman HS Honors English class. Beginning of the school year. Assignment to present an oral eulogy for myself in front of the class. I got out one sentence and broke down. I was terrified that I'd be mocked for what I was saying, couldn't remember what I'd prepared, panicked that my social status was plummeting, horrified at such a grim assignment. The teacher didn't make me finish. It was awful.