On Writing… and Reading to Hundreds of Strangers!!

A few weeks ago, I had a bunch of really good news.  We’d booked our trip to England, I was starting my new position at work, Nan was doing better, we’d signed up for dance classes, and I was just about to start my Creative Writing class.  Since then, things have continued to be great.  We’ve discovered Sweet is, hilariously, a NATURAL at ballroom dancing (while I’m still stuck on which foot goes backward) – but each class has been filled with fun and laughter, and it’s the perfect way to start our weekends.  I also phoned my Nan last week – and not only was she thrilled, but apparently she’s well enough to go home – to HER home, not a care home! – within the next two weeks! Work is going well, we’re making all sorts of plans for the UK trip, and Creative Writing class? ALL sorts of awesome.

From WinnipegLoveHate.com

I’m going to tell you a secret: I never finished university. I grew up hugely academic, spending my high school years continually on the honour roll and spent Saturday nights in the university library, reading Chaucer for fun and gazing out at the city’s skyline, as the sky turned from pinks to blues and the streets below came alive. I loved school. I love to learn, to challenge myself, to succeed in something I adore – but at 20 years old, life started to happen.  I’d moved out just as I turned 19, with A Boy, which lasted about a year – we broke up, and after a short stint on my parents’ sofa , I got my first apartment. I was working part time, and had no savings – or furniture – so I reluctantly decided to take some time off from school, get my life in gear, and work for a little bit in the Real World.

I was lucky enough to find jobs that led me toward graphic design. In school, I’d been studying medieval English literature and psychology – which would serve me really well in the real world [ahem] – but through work, I found I loved graphics. I was offered real-world experience, networking opportunities, and the chance to build a real portfolio.  This led me into marketing and advertising, which I adore – but I’ve also realised I have a passion for writing. Blogging has become just about the best hobby I’ve ever had, but I’ve always secretly loved to write fiction, too. I get lost in the worlds of incredible authors, surrendering my mind to their vivid imaginations, and longing to visit these fantastical places in the real world. I love the art of crafting a piece of prose as that’s as beautiful as a masterpiece painting. I love the English language.

Mr Flay appeared to clutter up the doorway as he stood revealed, his arms folded, surveying the smaller man before him in an expressionless way. It did not look as though such a bony face as his could give normal utterance, but rather that instead of sounds, something more brittle, more ancient, something dryer would emerge, something perhaps more in the nature of a splinter or fragment of stone. Nevertheless, the harsh lips parted. ‘It’s me,’ he said, and took a step forward into the room, his knee joints cracking as he did so. His passage across the room – in fact his passage through life – was accompanied by these cracking sounds, one per step, which might be likened to the breaking of twigs.
– From Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

Isn’t it beautiful? (The text – but yes, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was in the miniseries, we can refer to  him, too :))

So two weeks ago, I started my Creative Writing class. I had all sorts of hopes of meeting new people, of indulging my creative passion, and of a place my imagination could really take flight.  The first class wasn’t quite what I expected – I don’t think the instructor expected a group of only six, either! – but I was in my element.  I’m not usually one to pipe up in groups, but I instantly felt comfortable in a place where creative thinking was encouraged and praised.  In class, we all have to read our assignments and classroom activities out loud in front of each other.  This is slightly intimidating – but I’m hoping may be just the ticket to keep me going on the whole breaking free of fear journey.  Last week, we had to write a “character”, which I initially struggled with – I wasn’t used to having such open-ended assignments! But the second I sat down to write, I couldn’t stop. I ended up with something I was really rather proud of – I can’t use literary techniques and flowerly language on the blog, but I indulged on my assignment. And it went down really well!

We were also told about our final assignment, due in about 8 weeks. It’s open-ended in that it can be a play, a short story, a review, a poem… anything we like. But we’ve been booked a spot at one of the city’s biggest bookstores, where we will do a reading. In public. This is quite possibly one of the most intimidating tasks I’ve ever been given.  The way I got through facilitating my classes at work was to tell myself I was in a position to pass along information that would ultimately help people.  The desire to help surpassed my fear, so I was able to do it, no problem.  But putting something I’ve created out there, where it can be judged by other people? SCARY.

I’m trying to tell myself this is just another stepping stone in my ongoing journey. That I’ve learned how to live without worrying constantly about other people judging me, so I should be able to do the same with my writing.  Hopefully the next few weeks will be practice enough that I won’t bomb it in the end… and I’m feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement.  Let’s just hope the latter dominates.  Until then… hold my hand?

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65 comments

    1. Oh I do hope so!! Thanks for your support! We already had one girl who was really shy drop out of the class… I’m REALLY going to try and get over being so scared!

  1. Way to go, Emily! What a great way to continue tackling your fears and overcoming them. Kudos to you, girl!

    Oh, and I happen to think your writing skills are A+ and look forward to your first book. 😉

    1. Awww thank you! I know my fiction writing is COMPLETELY different from how I write here on the blog… maybe that’s why I’m scared about sharing it, because it IS different… goodness, I would love to write a book but one thing the prof is teaching us is that these days, to be a good author you need to be able to speak in front of people too… practice makes perfect hopefully!!

    1. Oh thank you ❤ I am trying to look around and focus on the things I've tackled (and succeeded with) before but it's hard when I'm not the one throwing myself out there :S

  2. What a great opportunity…I like your teacher! I have read in public once and right before it was very scary (especially when you compare yourself to others…don’t do that). Then, afterwards, it was the best feeling and I wanted to get back up and do it again. You’ll love it. Wish I was there to hear your writing, that would be a fun treat.

    1. Haha yes she is pretty good. I have this awful natural tendency to worry about judgment, or compare myself to others, and it’s been something I’ve been tackling for the last little while to really try and get past that… I’ve put myself into some “uncomfortable” situations where I had to speak in front of people, and you’re right, it’s scary at first, but the feeling afterwards of it being okay is totally the best feeling in the world!! I’m just going to try and focus on that…

  3. I LOVE creative writing classes!! They are my favorite. 😀 I’m so excited for you that you’re having this experience. And–for the reading, you’ll do fine! You’ve got 8 weeks to write & re-write & practice & prepare: I know you’ll do fantastic! It will be an adventure and another step furthering your creative and wonderful self. 🙂

    1. I’m loving the course too!! I’m just TERRIBLY nervous when it comes to reading aloud – even if it is just my group, it’s just so nerve-wracking when it’s something you’ve created, you know? I’m really enjoying it though – and I still have a few weeks to practice 🙂 Thanks for the support!!

  4. Wow, that IS intimidating, but just think of all the practice you’ll have reading in front of people before then. Eight plus weeks of reading things a loud in class. I’m really excited for you – it’s scary but it’s going to be great!!!

    1. Me too! Although I never used to be – I used to be able to sing in a band in front of hundreds and actually ENJOY the adrenaline rush – it’s my ongoing goal to get back there and stop being afraid 🙂

  5. Sounds like this next public speaking gig will be a great opportunity. This time you can tell yourself that you are there to surprise your audience, which I believe you will do. Make it your goal to surprise them and in doing so I believe you will surprise yourself!

  6. Oh wow! That’s an amazing and intense assignment! And I second what Manderz says – you’ll do amazing, and you’ve already proven yourself. This is just an opportunity to amaze other people.

    1. Intense IS the word!! I don’t know if I’ve proven myself yet – TO myself. I feel like I can almost pretend to other people like I can do it but knowing that inside I’m terrified still means I’m a long way from proving it to myself…

  7. Wow. This assignment makes me think of a Psychology class I took where I had to teach a whole class/subject by myself. It was nerve-wracking, but afterward I felt empowered and proud of myself. I’m hoping you feel that way in the end too!

    1. Yikes! I really hope so too – the first workshop I taught at work I told them at the end it was my first time facilitating and I got a round of applause and they said they never would’ve guessed. It was the best feeling in the world!!

  8. I took a creative writing class in college, and loved it. And I learned a lot too 🙂 It was always nerve-racking–we would have an assignment each week and we’d have to make copies for the class to read, to which they would all return with critiques. whew!

    Good job on tackling fears. Reading/speaking/talking in public is scary for most people, actually.

    BTW, I also LOVE the english language. We have so many descriptive words. For example, we have a GAZILLION ways to say pretty: beautiful, nice, gorgeous, lovely, breathtaking, etc. In Turkish, they have one way. Just one. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!!! haha.

    1. Oh wow!! Yes isn’t the English language wonderful?? I love its evolution too from old to middle to today’s English. Although maybe not the “txt” branch of evolution 🙂 We have to start photocopying our assignments for our classmates too and apparently we’re going to have a “spotlight on” few weeks where we all critique one person’s work… eek!!

  9. Oh I think it’s so neat that you are taking creative writing as an adult! And that whole reading in front of strangers at a bookstore, that is certainly intimidating. But I have confidence you’ll do wonderfully!

    I took two creative writing classes in highschool and enjoyed them very much…

  10. Oh, man. And I thought having my stories edited and torn down by my peers was tough. This is definitely going to be a challenge!

    But I think you’re going to do awesome! I think you have proven yourself over and over again at how awesome you really are and this will be another step in the right direction. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    If you need a last-minute pep talk, you know where to find me!

    1. Well let’s see how I do with the singing vlog first. I’m posting it on Wednesday :S If I can get through THAT I can get through anything!!

      And I will DEFINITELY be bombarding your inbox an hour before the talk with whinings and “I don’t WANNA”s lol

  11. AHHHH!! I am so excited for you! I will hold your hand in spirit. It’s so cool that you taking that creative writing class. You go girl! I think I would be too chicken. I recently bought a creative writing book that’s enough for me right now. I can’t wait for the day when you publish your first book! So happy all these things are coming into line for you.

    1. Thanks lovely!! I really hope one day I get to write a book. It would just be a dream! But almost like an indulgence – a prize almost, that I’ll give myself once I feel I’ve really given it my all in overcoming my fears of things. One day 🙂

  12. Oh hurrah! I’m pretty sure that this is EASILY within your capabilities, hey. I’m beginning to discover that getting over the fear of doing something is the tricky part. The actually doing it part is easy 🙂 I hope that this assignment works out the same for you. Good luck, hey! 🙂

  13. You’re right – it totally is getting over the fear that’s the hard part. It’s my personal mission to get over it in any situation – only because I know first hand how incapacitating and limiting and awful it can be if you let it take over – and we all have a choice about how hard we’re willing to try and fight it. I really hope I can do this!! Thank you!! 🙂

  14. I took a creative writing class in college and we also had to read our pieces outloud. So freaking nerve wracking. I hated it, but it did make me grow as a writer. It was tough to hear criticism about something so personal, but it really helped me hone my story telling…

    Good luck w/ the public read.

  15. You can do it : ) Feel the fear….and do it anyway.
    I remember back at the start of secondary school I was petrified of public speaking and I somehow managed to get into such a comfy place with it at University I actually started to enjoy it. Before I would have run from it, feigned illness, anything to get out of it.

    P.S. Discovered your blog today and lovin’ it!

    1. I’m slowly getting there too – it’s taken me a while to WANT to actually tackle it instead of running screaming but it’s not SO bad as it once was… thanks so much for visiting!! I’m going to check out your blog right now 🙂

  16. ahh i love how things are coming together so well for you!!
    i relate with you a lot, i think. both into graphic design AND writing. i’m trying to find a way to merge these two passions into my career..

  17. Me too!! I think the answer lies in marketing – I just wish I’d taken it in school so I could have SOMETHING to say I can do it… but all we can do is take on what we can and slowly build up a portfolio… I wish you all the best of luck!!

  18. If I was there I would SOOOO be in the audience cheering for you!!! This is so exciting Em! I cannot wait to hear how it goes- you’re gonna do beautifully though I KNOW IT! 😀

    Sending love and good luck your way!
    Ashley

  19. Scary, but exciting. I’m going through the same emotions with my first public speaking engagement for ISWU – running a workshop for a bunch of professionals in June. Ack!

    I’m here for you – you know that. 🙂

  20. I’ve always wanted to write fiction too. In fact, I’m working on a novel right now.

    But reading in public? That would FREAK ME OUT. Good luck lady!

  21. You continue to be so inspiring! Trying new things that are scary, not being afraid to cultivate a passion, being more authentic…you’re awesome!

    I am on a similair path…and couldn’t be more excited for the growth that is to come!

  22. Em, you have a beautiful voice, you did a fantastic job! I hope that you will continue to share your voice with us…and not just through karaoke!

    I’m so proud of you the growth you have shown in the last year is amazing and inspiring to all who know you.

    xoxo

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