Creative Writing in College
In my third year of college, I took a creative writing class. There wasn’t a whole lot of structure and basically, the professor encouraged us to come up with short stories. I had written some minor works in the past and I even posted a few jokes on Usenet. Want to read one?
For me, this creative writing class was a big change because I was encouraged to write larger story arcs and this effort encouraged to push my creative limits. To help with this, the professor offered topic guidelines and tips for crafting great stories.
Not knowing what else to write about, I took characters (friends and family) directly from my life and put them into the most far-fetched situations that I could come up with. Because of a recent blog post, I decided to dig up these college creative writing stories from an old hard drive directory. At first, I was shocked. My grammar was atrocious and my spelling was worse. It was so bad that I wondered if somehow translating from the old DOS program Office Writer to Microsoft Office 3.0 to Microsoft Office 2016 had somehow dramatically affected my words. Last weekend, I happened to be in the attic and opened a box of my old college stuff. I had saved one of the stories and it had all the comments from the professor. I had no idea how bad my grasp of the English language used to be.
After I got over my shock, I was able to take an unbiased look at the content. What I had come up with was interesting and I had a real knack for dialog. I was surprised because I thought that writing good dialog was a recent occurrence. I also had a good flow and a real understanding of plot structure. I had talent back then? Who knew?
The story that I want to concentrate on for this blog is called “A Trip.” In high school, I would go bike riding into the canyon near our house. It was a great time in my life and I had a lot of fun. On one of those trips, I thought I was being chased and I hid for 10 minutes in a drainage pipe. Some men drove up and illegally dumped their garbage. This was a frightening experience because I couldn’t see what was going on and from the noise, they were making, I thought they were looking for me.
From that basic beginning, I whirled off an imaginative tale of a bike riding boy. I read the story twice and it brought me back to that simple time. I remember that joyful kid who had a vivid imagination and a bright future. I also remember how this kid completely understood how the world worked. He was going to bend it into submission with his great ideas. I suppose that all kids are convinced that “their generation will make it right.” [Lyric from Land Of Confusion by Genesis]
I read the story a third time and I could see my present personality peeking out. I could also see that I used to have a real negative streak. In college, I was becoming aware that this personality trait was getting out of hand and my friends told me the same thing. To address this negative streak, I forced myself to have a positive outlook. In the story, the character Randy clearly has that negative streak. He assumes that people will act a certain way and he looks down upon them even when they’re nice. If something bad happens, the world is punishing him. Everything is stupid and everyone’s a jerk. Except for Randy, he’s perfect. At the time, I thought this was cool to act and Randy was my alter ego. I remember those days and I’m really glad that I put in the personal effort to change. There’s no doubt that if I hadn’t put in this effort, I would have grown up a miserable person. What kind of woman would put up with a man like that? Reading this story made me proud of what I accomplished. It’s also proof that a person can change their life if they really want to.
To save the world, Randy uses his imagination and this is the magic cure for everything. That Engineering mind. There’s always a solution, just analyze the logic. Some things never change. It occurs to me that Randy’s intelligence could be considered a blessing or a curse. I have known many people who were too smart for themselves. The term for these people is “smart slacker.” At times, I still recognize this trait and when it peeks out, it makes me ashamed. In these circumstances, I should be acting nicer and trying harder.
While the story needed major grammar and spelling fixes, it was a perfectly good short story arc that could have occurred. Well, I think it could have occurred. Taking a high-level look at this story, it made me proud of my early writing accomplishments. The words were emotional and it was clear that I drew from my best experiences. That’s what creative writing is all about.
Will there be any future creative writing for me? One day, I might write a book full of short stories. I have an interesting idea about Amelia Earhart and time travel. But for now, blogging and writing full fiction books are my only creative outlet. Writing this blog is bringing back fond memories of those times. Something to think about.
Read my creative writing story here:
You’re the best -Bill
July 25, 2018
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