Thursday, March 09, 2006

Class Concludes

Using Margaret Atwood is all done. I have learned quite a bit from the class. I've learned what reading like a writer means. I used to think it was some mysterious method I was not privy to. Not so. Reading as a writer means paying attention to what is going on not only in the story but with the words on the page. It means noticing things like point of view, tense, chronology. It also means paying attention to the way character is developed and how narration and dialog is used. I find that paying such close attention leads to questions about how the choices the writer made affects the story. Reading so closely is slow but rewarding work. With short stories it doesn't have to be sustained for long. I haven't tried it on a novel yet. I'm worried that if I do, I'll get tired out before I'm halfway through. But it's worth it to at least try. Now I just have to figure out what novel to try it on. The Virginian maybe? Or perhaps I should try it on an Atwood novel? I have The Tent sitting on the corner of my desk, beckoning. One of the purposes of the class was to learn from the choices Atwood makes in her stories. And learn I have. I never really thought about all the possibilities I could choose from in writing. I'd just write and see what happened. Now I'm aware of what my "default" choices are and feel like I can consciously make a different choice or give myself permission to go with the default. I was hoping that I'd be inspired by the class to actually finish something. I am great at getting ideas, starting out and then getting another idea and moving on to that one. I have all kinds of beginnings but no endings. Unfortunately I find I have even more beginnings and still no endings. Maybe it's because I have always used writing as a way to think, so when I start writing my brain goes wild and all these thoughts and ideas start bouncing around behind my eyeballs. Perhaps it has something to do with the way I like to learn as well. I love "reverse engineering" things. Give me the answer, the product, the conclusion and I love taking it apart to figure out how it was arrived at. I am fascinated by process and how parts make a whole. That's probably why I found taking apart Atwood stories so much fun. If there is anyone else out there who has the same difficulties I do I'd love to hear from you, especially if you've managed to figure out a way to continue loving the process and still reach an end. The next Loft catalog comes out it early April for classes over the summer. I am jealous of my summers, need to spend as much time outdoors as possible to make up for being housebound all winter, so unless there is a class that is now-or-never or so interesting I can't resist, I'll be suspending classes until fall. I'll have to think of a way to set up an outdoor writing space without offering myself up as dinner for the mosquitos, and maybe, just maybe, I'll manage to actually finish something.