I admit it — I’m a bad student. I hate learning new things. I hate the feeling of not fully understanding something. I hate practicing, even though now as an adult I know that practice trumps innate talent every time. Frankly, I’m kind of surprised that I was able to power through my apprenticeship as a writer, starting back in 1993, when I decided it was time to put up or shut up about wanting to be a published writer.

So, now I’m taking a short story writing class taught by Hannah Tinti of One Story. The class has just started, and it’s laser focused on structure. As we all know by now, structure (outlining) is not my favorite thing. But what I also know about myself; besides being a bad student, when I get defensive, it’s because I’m protecting my self image, and when all my energy goes into that little strategy, good-bye creativity.

Deep breath: enter the course.

I went in with a goal — to get started on a short story that I’ve been thinking of for several years but haven’t been sure how to write. With the first lesson of the class, I now have the bones of the story. It’s funny; the class lessons are loaded in the middle of the night. I read through the first lesson before work, got defensive (this is bullshit!), came up with some stuff, and then on the drive to work, the lines and structure got sorted out and I thought, okay. Okay. I see how this will work.

I couldn’t write until after work, but when I did, it came together. Not perfect, not by any stretch, but the emotional heft of the story has the scaffolding it needs grow on.

I think it was the easy part though. Today’s lesson needs some more thinking, some more expansion.

Let’s hope the drive to work can do the trick.


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