January 25th 2016
Today I made significant progress in the advancement of my writing ability. Kinda. I think. Hopefully.
I am currently in a phase of attempting to read smart in a bid to begin to write smart. As such I finished reading Gatsby today, and then went out and bought a whole load of other books by authors such as Hemingway, Vonnegut and Steinbeck.
I am performing somewhat of an education on myself in which I teach myself to write like the classics by reading the classics. It’s made difficult, though, by the fact that I struggle to relate to any kind of culture pre-1990’s. Which, unfortunately, means it’s difficult for me to read about 1920’s Southern America, unless it’s written as brilliantly and eloquently as Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I’ve so far given up on Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and put a hold on Kerouac’s On The Road whilst I read other, more entertaining novels.
I think today, for the first time ever, I bought a book from Waterstones. And, to compensate for the fact that I hadn’t done so previously, I bought ten at once. I’m sure I could have saved money by buying them online, or on Kindle, but something about having paperback copies of the so-called (and in some cases Self-Named) “Classics” appealed to me.
After buying the supplies for my education I headed off to class. Week two of Advanced Creative Writing at College. We began by learning that an overuse of the present participle is offputting to editors. So I will be stopping that. (If you missed that: I just made a pun using the present participle of the verb “to stop”)
As a group we then analysed some work brought in for discussion by various members of the group (it’s my turn next week) This discussion involved, in this order, praising the positives and critiquing/improving the negatives.
The latter is difficult with a group of people with whom you have met only once before because you’re worried about offending, or upsetting, that person. Some of them responded well, and encouraged, criticism, and others defended their work with great heart so it was tricky defining the balance between giving constructive feedback and being overly negative.
On a few occasions the instructor of the class said of my comments “James makes a good point here…” Which I took to mean that my feedback was being well received and agreed with by other members of the group.
I’m not sure how I will respond to the criticism when it is my turn to bring in work next week.
Until tomorrow, probably not very well.