Horses for courses…

I love writing. As you know if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts. I love it but it’s hard. It’s work. Sometimes it even feels like really crappy, dumb work that you wouldn’t wish upon your nemesis. Urgh the slog. But then, at other times, words just seem to fall out of you in the right order. Not only do you not hate what you’ve written, you actually kinda like it. Oh those are the moments! Writing is made up of all those moments plus more. The slog and the crescendo. The dirty and the bright. The uphill battle and the downhill thrill.

Recently I registered for an online writing course about ‘unlocking creativity’. From time to time I enjoy participating in a course to learn new skills, refresh old skills, meet new people, read the work of others, and generally just continue to practise the craft. This particular course has thus far, been enlightening. There are lots of exercises to do that take you to places you may not get to on your own. It’s also a requirement that you leave feedback on the writing of others, which is a skill unto itself, and for teachers, something that is useful to practice. This course also includes tutors who read your writing and give constructive feedback which is supremely helpful. Their insights are thoughtful and beneficial.

Recently in this course I had to write a short piece in response to the word mother. It was a timed exercise of about three minutes. This is what I wrote:

Mum’s room still looks the same. Except for the dust. She’d have hated the dust. The intricate glass trays on the antique bedside tables still hold perfumes from 18 years ago. Chanel No. 5, Amarige; scents that I can never smell without being plunged through the wormhole to 1996. Clothes still hang in the cupboard, most bought on a tab arrangement from Shoppe 336 where she was friends with the owner.

I searched the bedside drawers once, looking for who knows what? A letter from a clandestine lover? The drawers have a particular smell now. That special smell when jewellery, papers, trinkets, buttons, threads, all share a small space for many years. Tiny memories of a life, held within each item, slowly seep out and bond, until the time when you finally, finally open the drawer again and it hits you, in your face and in your heart.

Kristine Portier

I quote Robert Frost to the kids in my classroom all the time:

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

Robert Frost

I believe his words with all my heart. If you, as the writer aren’t moved in some way, then you can never expect to move your audience. That little piece above, that means a lot to me. I can feel it and smell and see it. As the author I hope you can too.

This course has already helped unleash ideas and motivate me in ways that I hadn’t contemplated. I’m grateful that I took the plunge to join and I’m going to use this opportunity and get the most out of it. If you’ve ever considered doing an online course to kick start your writing journey, or reinvigorate it, I would highly recommend it. I’m also a regular at Catherine Deveny’s Masterclasses and Writing Retreats which are phenomenal.

Courses, (of course) are not necessary in order for you to write, just having a writer’s notebook handy and noticing the world will facilitate that. But sometimes courses pop up at the right time for the right reason and give you that swift kick up the bum you need to just write. The slog and the crescendo.

In the meantime, have a think about the quote from Robert Frost. Perhaps it’s something you can also connect with? I hope you’ve had a lovely day full of writing and tea. xx

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