Thoughts as I Go #1: My Very First Goal

Paper Coach : Teach Yourself to Write (A Fiction Writing Course)

My very first goal for this writing blog has been met: it pushed me to write.

I was procrastinating, afraid to crack the books and start. And that meant I wasn't posting, which worked on me until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and then I opened the first book and did the first writing assignment. As with most pressurized procrastination I felt immensely better the moment I did what I'd been procrastinating. Once again, the antidote to fear and avoidance turns out to be the very thing feared in the first place. Ah, irony.

I began Phase 1 of The Course with the creative activation category; in this case, Cameron’s The Right to Write. It's the only creative activation textbook in Phase 1.

As mentioned, I enjoyed it. I wrote. Cameron's first lesson is a bit more like journal writing than anything else: it's an exercise in writing about where you are right now, physically, emotionally, etc. A map of the head space. I have to confess I’m a little suspicious of the “higher powers” undercurrent in Cameron's approach. You'll see what I mean if you read the introduction and chapter one, yourself. However, the first exercise had me writing immediately, and it's pretty hard to argue with that (even if what I wrote did devolve into half a page of expletives). All things said, I plan to keep an open mind and forge ahead with this text.

I also tackled the grammar book, The Elements of Grammar, by Shertzer. It was…well, it was grammar. But it was far less fugly a read than I feared. I find I’m actually looking forward to more - go figure. However, I concluded pretty quickly that trying to memorize, study, or take notes on the grammar would melt my brain. So I’m just reading this material, with no active attempt at retention, trying to soak it up. I figure I'll try to study and memorize grammar in later Phases (*sigh*).

For inspirational reading I went with a little bit of the Hemingway book, Ernest Hemingway on Writing, by Phillips. Hemingway owns one of my favorite (and more famous) quotations on writing. To paraphrase: “The first draft is always shit…” I take heart from those words.

All together, today's reading and writing took me about an hour and a half. Not bad, I think.

There are 43 chapters in The Right to Write, and if I can average 5 chapters per week then I’ll be done with this book in a little over 8 weeks. Cameron’s book is almost the longest, I think. Theoretically that means I could be done with Phase 1 in 8 weeks.

Why does 8 weeks* feel so unrealistic to me?

Well enough. The ship is underway, and we’ll just have to see where and how it sails. The first Weekly Progress Post is due in 7 days.

- Lou
Salt Point, NY

*See comments.


At 9/28/2006 6:20 PM, Blogger Lou Agresta said...

I just doubled checked The Course, and Cameron's book is not the longest.

Cleaver's Immediate Fiction and Disch's The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of are just about tied for longest.

However, the Course doesn't call for starting Immediate Fiction until about 3 weeks into The Right to Write, so it'll definitely be more than 8 weeks.


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