Learning One Step at a Time – Becoming the Best Writer I (and You) Can Be

 

Piggy-backing on my March blog re: big britches, patience, being humbled and remembering what I’m doing on this path in the first place – I’d like to share what I’ve been working on since then.

Homework.

Yep.  This brought up a vivid memory for me.  Like many others, I hated that word.  We worked all day in school – and now we get to go home and what?  Work some more.  Ugh.

Unless – it was an assignment, a project, an activity that I was interested in.  Then watch out!  I’ve got more time at home to pour myself into something I WANT to learn.  Whoo hoo!

There was an assignment in an Art class I had in high school.  I adored my teacher Miss D.  Who gave us, in my opinion, the best homework ever, because it required we draw, create and design.  This particular assignment was apparel for men and women – any way we wanted – for any environment we wanted.  I couldn’t wait to get started, my mother was an incredibly gifted artist with fabric and thread.  She had a ton of Butterick and McCalls patterns I could use for inspiration, and study the poses of the models.

Once I gathered all the colored pencils, markers and paper I would need, I spent the time until bed working on my ideas.  The environment would be underwater, materials would be functional and high tech.  I did a collection of sorts for the four seasons I assumed would also be under the waves.  From the warm waters off Fiji to the frigid temperatures off Alaska.

I gave careful thought to footwear, as well as head and hand coverings that matched the outfits.  Afterwards, I carefully cut each design out and placed them on coordinating construction paper colors.  I had a great time and was so proud of the finished results.

I was never a popular kid in high school, I found a place in the art room to find myself and for the most part to be left alone from the bullies.  Little did I know, when I submitted, I would see the wrath from some people who looked at my work as something threatening to them personally.  Isn’t that how bullies operate?  The faults are within them, yet they see fit to bite and claw at others.

Miss D praised my work.  She pointed out the details, the use of color, capturing functionality with fashion, the originality of the work.  She gave me full credit for taking an assignment to a higher level.  I sat beaming with pride.  No one had ever publicly commended me for anything.  Here was something I could do well, here was my niche, it wasn’t on a court or the sidelines cheering.  It was here in a room filled with light that smelled of paint and turpentine.  Naively I misread the quiet of the room thinking others were looking at my work with approval and dare I say – respect.

Unfortunately that was furthest from the truth.  I was so lost in this sublime feeling that I did not hear the hissing sounds.  The snakes had coiled up tight, ready to strike.  They had been embarrassed.  There were only a few other submissions, nothing more than scribbles, some didn’t bother with the assignment at all.  They sat in silence seething.  Somehow it was my fault they didn’t do their homework.  But something changed that day.  Something changed inside me.  Oh of course there was poison spewed from under their breath  as they shoved past at the bell.  Yet not one of them looked me in the eye and said it.  Why?  They knew they were wrong and now I knew it too.  From that day on I honestly didn’t give a damn about them.  It was freeing.

Fast forward to now – writing is freeing!

I view homework differently.  It is something I choose to learn, something I want to learn, and something I know I need to do to get me to the next level.  So this memory has actually helped me focus on what I know is important to make me a better writer, no matter how loud the hissing gets.

Since March I completed a course on sentence structure and now I’m currently working through a 24 course series of tips and techniques when writing fiction.  I’m learning.  I’m learning ways of structuring and understanding the reasons behind those structures in sentences – it is empowering.  Finding one “Ah-Ha” moment after another is fulfilling.  And yes, I’m still just scratching the surface of the page, because I must now learn to put all I’m learning into practice and that takes time and more patience.

If there was one thing to share if you are on your own path to becoming the best writing you can be.  Is to do your homework – Learn – and love it while you do the work!  Learn as much as you can about writing from a variety of people and places.  NO ONE PERSON has all the answers, and if they tell you they do, they are lying to you.  Find out for yourself.  Choose a lecture series you can work on at home, or take a course you’ve always wanted to, just for the fun of it, or put your ego aside – maybe you need it!  Explore retreats and don’t be surprised some may be closer than you think – some have writing components, others offer ways to explore yourself. Times for retreats vary too – from a few hours in an afternoon to a month!   Perhaps weave it with journey into yoga, meditation, art, hiking, cooking, whatever, you’ll find your niche.

Learn from wherever you go and whoever you meet!  Learn and absorb and be proud and happy of what you can accomplish.  Give homework another chance!  You might just be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

Just a sample to explore for yourself:

http://www.lauramunsonauthor.com/retreats/

http://www.abbyroseyoga.com/retreats

A fun read by Edgar H. Schuster: “Breaking the Rules:  Liberating Writers Through Innovative Grammar Instruction”

 

 

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About Patty Young

Patricia Young spent most of her life in the Northeast. Before the casinos arrived and many of the safety rails installed, she would walk Bushkill Falls and enjoy time in a little cabin by Meadow Lake near the Delaware Water Gap. The school year was spent in New Jersey, but many summers were spent in Mississippi where she wandered in the woods, ride horses, reading comic books and played with cousins. After graduating from college with a degree in education, she taught fifth grade in Queens. When rent climbed higher than her salary she working for a defense industry in Yonkers before starting a small business called, The Giving Tree Day Care. For fifteen years she was fondly "held hostage by two year olds!" Writing every day for in a notebook for each child to keep communication open and flowing to the families. Fast forward to the spring of 2013 diagnosed with sever carpal tunnel syndrome (she does NOT recommend having both hands done at the same time! Often wondering "What was I thinking?!") Physical therapy and time slowly began the healing process and gardening strengthened her hands. After an unexpected, but deeply personal journey to Montana in the fall of 2013 she decided it was time to reinvent herself and embrace her passion for words. With renewed confidence, and a plan to do the work necessary to become a writer, she began writing every day (with the help of 750Words.com - thank you Kellianne and Buster!), submitting to a variety of magazines and contests to practice the craft. As well as participating in the Learning to See poetry programs offered at the local library. Attending writing retreats, workshops, lectures, taking classes, reading and immersing herself in the process. She began to work with writers and authors in the tri-state area. Presently living in Westchester New York Patricia lives with her husband of 29 years, two daughters – both attending college and grad school and a dear college friend – all under the roof of a little cape cod. Its snug – but the laughter and support is rich and full! Patricia is working on her first novel with her editor, with hopes and dreams and fingers crossed to find an agent in the fall of 2015. You are invited to join her on this journey of a writer. To experience her trials, successes and stumbles along the way. Perhaps it will help you find your brave, and if writing is in your soul - to join her. Share your stories and maybe together we will unravel some of the complexities of this life. To heal, hope and learn what we can from one another, in the time we have. To listen and hear one another's stories. Breathe Deep, Think Peace Patty
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