The Lesson I Learned
Writers don’t care how they look. What is important to them is what they write about. You can look like a wreck and write the most beautiful prose. You can have wart on your nose and write a lovely poem. Writers have no wish to attain the heights of beauty. Not in the physical sense. Their world is in words, in worlds, in heaven or in some part of hell where a little bit of life still thrives.
I went to a writer’s conference last year. The keynote speaker was a woman who was a writer -in-residence at a university. She looked like someone’s old maiden aunt. She wore no makeup, her hair was disheveled from the wind, her clothes weren’t designer clothes. They were the clothes of a journeywoman. Someone who just came out of a long trip on the road.
Yet when she read her work I began to hear and see her world, her humor and her wit. Yes, she was a writer. Not a thing about her physically that would cause a lot of heads to turn. But turn they did when they heard her speak.
So I learned a lesson that day. I felt like I could be comfortable as a writer. I didn’t need makeup. I didn’t need a lot of hair product nor did I need to wear the latest fashions to be with other writers. Or, to write on my laptop. In class, my classmates and I get along well discussing what I loved doing: Writing. What we did was enough. And that was to write, and write well.
And part of the lesson for me was to look at others without judging them based on their appearance. It is not how God wants us to treat people. We need to look into their eyes, their smiles, the creases on their brows, the rough edges of their lives and come to understand how God made them the way they are and see how they work, what they do. How their lives glorify God. How their lives fit in with the Plan of God.
Each of us has a purpose in life. Don’t let the way we look to each other get in the way.
Happy Sunday evening!
I just finished posting on my Literary Theory class and felt so inspired by this new class that I had to blog about it. I’ve been having fun in the MFA courses and having finished Screenwriting and now onto Literary Theory, I was slightly daunted by its sober title. I know that when I first read Gadamer’s work as an assigned reading, it almost scared me off. But then I plowed ahead and went on with the first week’s round of discussions and it was actually fun!
Literary Theory is, to me, a way to break down works of literature to something that is beyond the actual story that is being analyzed. Literary Theory is something like anatomy class, where you see how God put together a human being and how that human being gets to live and act and be in the living state. So when I would start working on a novel or short story, it helps to know how they evolved, how they can affect the reader, and how the structure of the story can evoke similar works – such as genre.
It’s great to be in the MFA course and I’m recommending those who want to write seriously to consider taking the MFA. I hope one day to meet one of you out there and share experiences from our MFA classes.
I am now 60. I have been since 9-12. It is a rather strange feeling to be 60 when I certainly don’t feel like I am. And people I know are puzzled to look at me and know or be told my age. They find it odd that I don’t look 60 to them. But I’m just thinking that I don’t look 60 because of perhaps a few things that are unique to me: I am single. I’ve never had children. And, I happen to be Asian. These things give away the main reasons why I don’t look my age. There were no marital issues in my life, and children had never given me the frown lines nor the smile lines around my mouth. The turning of age to 60 is a jolt, to be sure, because I feel as though I am yet unfinished. I am several years till retirement age. And yet, here I am, going for my MFA in Creative Writing. I could also want to just retire and bake bread all day, or clean my house. Or garden. All these are fine. Yet, I feel like I am still able to contribute to society. I don’t like to travel and hate airports. I’d rather then find a way to keep myself alert and do what I always loved to do. And that is to write. Stories. Blogs. Screenplays. Essays. Like this.
I am certainly feeling that God had a hand in my life story. I’ve had many – or really, several jobs, and changed careers a few times. So now I think that 60 is, as many profess, merely a number.
I don’t mind being 60. I try to not think of being 60. I still feel new at the 60 generation. I don’t like spandex waistbands but I like how they allow me to have an extra helping of pasta. I find it hard to believe that I would even become romantically involved at 60. My interests don’t take me very far from home. And I surely think that God is still working on me, and from Him am I getting ideas and graces and inspirations.
So, now that I’m one fourth of the way to being 61, I am happy to say that I am glad I made it to 60. I’m one lucky person who came through the last year of unrest in politics, conflicts in many areas of the world, and even periods of sadness that blossomed into this period of (and I hope it is a long one) happy creativity.
Right now I’m getting into reading more of the assignments for our MFA class. I’m reading David Sedaris and Joan Didion, and a smattering of other essay writers. I wrote a couple of chapters of my new book (oh, did I not tell you I’m writing a book?) so that I’ve progressed and now am into Chapter 6. It’s going well – getting a lot of ideas as I think of the different scenarios for my protagonist, Joe. Suffice it to say, it’s a YA novel. I’ve stumbled into YA as a result of an online class (not the MFA one) that I took in May. I posted a story (the beginning of my novel) and the instructor (Dr. Eva Shaw) and my classmates liked how I developed the characters. So – Eva said “You should think about writing YA.” And so I am. I’m actually writing a few other first chapters of novels. It’s all crowding in my head. Interestingly, last Sunday, I was a wreck. I hadn’t written in a few days. I needed to write a bit more on my class project. So I decided to settle my anxious thoughts by doing three things first: One, I went to Mass; Two, I read a passage from the Bible; and Three, I said a decade of the rosary. And then I went ahead and wrote.
I’m always amazed at how settled I feel after reading the Bible, or after a period of meditation/prayer. I think that at the first moment of consciousness one must commune with God. To get one’s head right. Or before starting something new, prayer to the Holy Spirit is good. This is straight out of my dear Mom’s prayer guide. She told me to say 7 Our Fathers (the Lord’s Prayer), 7 Hail Mary’s and 7 Glory Be’s at the start of a project, or before a test or when I’m driving out of the house for the first time of the day. And I’ve done it since she told me many years ago. It helps.
I posted an excerpt from my novel on my Patreon page. If you wish to see it, it’s here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/story-chapter-6468359. I sent the link to my cousin and she found a few typos. So please excuse those.
So I’m off to read a few more essays to get into the groove of writing MY essay for my class. Next time, I’ll post the first chapter of my YA story here.
I hope you have a peaceful evening.
My first class is done. More to come. My grade came in and it was pretty good. An A-. I think it went very well, considering I have not been in a classroom for decades. I enjoyed the back and forth with my professor, Bryan Hurt, and with my classmates. I learned that I can handle the workload, while working full time. And that I can write, and that I enjoy writing more than I realized.
I admit that the first week of school was rough. When I would have wanted to stretch out on the couch to enjoy the evening I had to make myself sit at the computer and get into the class material. But I’m now so used to the new normal that it seems so strange that there isn’t anything to work on now when the class is done and the next won’t be starting for a few days.
I learned that I’m not done yet with life. I learned that people look forward to reading my work. I learned that I have something else that is good that God has given me. And I am truly grateful for the chance to find something more about myself that’s now just come to the fore.