This piece was the final writing assignment from a multi-week writing class. It was to be between 1,500 and 2,000 words and was to include as many clichés as we could. We could choose any subject we wanted. I chose the writing class itself and in particular, the final assignment.
This class is to be our fifteen minutes of fame but that sounds too much like a cliché. I am still working on eliminating often used and unnecessary phrases, the excess baggage, from my words. This cutting of worthless modifiers must be done carefully. If it is not, Hamlet’s famous soliloquy would end up being “Or Not”. During the past few weeks, I’ve listened intently, taped all the lectures, took notes, wrote to writing partners and read in front of class. Now, here at the last week, at the drop of a hat, with no prior warning, we are suppose to shine, to show what we have learned. This is the final essay, when we can drop a bombshell, or roll out the big guns. In the last but not least session of this class, we are supposed to inject a breath of fresh air into our words.
We all stuck it out, no one bit the dust. During these weeks I learned that every part of your life is grist for the mill, fodder for the cannons. Everyone got personal, told secrets of themselves, but no one rocked the boat. We stayed at the helm to the end, all of us going down to the wire.
No one came to class drunk as a skunk or high as a kite. All our words were interesting because no one slept like a log during a reading. We were all adults, therefore, no need to treat each other with kid gloves. Nothing was revealed in our writing that turned the world upside down and no one told anybody to go jump in the lake. Through our words, our work, we got to know each other like an open book, backwards and forwards, almost like the back of our own hands.
After our first class, the reading sequence was set. We would not have to pick a number when we read, instead relying on where we sat the first night. Occasionally one of us would read something that would be shot full of holes by the others. Each of us in turn listened to the comments, none of us squealing like a stuck pig. Reading your own work in front of a class could cause butterflies in your stomach and occasionally you could detect nervousness in the readers’ voice.
Because of the different stories read in class, stories that told it all, many with no holds barred, there was never a dull moment. This openness in our work gave us permission to write freely, almost a feeling of anything goes. Reading our work gave each of us a chance to soar like an eagle, to ride like the wind. Occasionally we were rolling in the aisle because someone read a piece that was as funny as hell.
No one got mad as a wet hen. Many of the pieces were read tongue in cheek, and with some revising will stand the test of time. During a reading we were all quiet as a mouse, which I know is a tough row to hoe when someone is trying to make a silk purse from a sows’ ear. There may have been slim pickings in some of the material but none of us threw in the towel.
Because of differing styles of writing there was often a fine line between right and wrong in our words. There were common themes, universal subjects in most of the work. Some read pieces with subjects and ideas that many would not touch with a ten foot pole. When preparing and revising our essays, we would sometimes get in a rut. When that happened, looking for your own errors was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Hopefully we have learned from this experience and our work, our words, will sell like hot cakes after this class. Maybe what we write will strike a responsive chord. Maybe there will be readers that like our prose and that will encourage us to become more varied and not always sing the blues.
None of us are as dumb as doornails. Taking this class, doing the work required for the past few weeks, proves that we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to improve, to be sly as a fox. This dedication proves we will stand behind the eight ball no matter what the odds. Many of us will work so hard that it will seem like we are burning the candle at both ends. We will send pieces out we are not sure should be sent out, feeling like we are jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But we will improve, the more we write the easier it becomes, eventually the ideas for essays becoming as numerous as flies.
We will not walk softly in this endeavor. We will not be meek as lambs but strong as an ox at this chosen path. From a sitting position either at our desk or at our computer, we will treat each idea like a hot potato. Some of these ideas will be easy and our words will hit the nail on the head. Other essays will not evolve so easily, but because we do not want to play second fiddle, you can bet your bottom dollar we will keep our nose to the grindstone. After all, with this class, the die is cast
If we will just continue our straight and narrow path down this primrose lane, we will find there are many avenues to explore. Eventually, maybe sooner than expected, each of us will hit pay dirt. When this time comes it will be like a shot in the arm. This could result in our doing a land office business because we have written a run-a-way best seller. Everyone in this class should do it now before the chickens come home to roost. I know I will leap the hurdle and prove that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
There is time for all of us to write since none of us are as old as methuselah. Some in the class just started writing and others have been writing since they were knee high to a grasshopper. When we write, if we do not harp on a theme, then we should not hit a sour note. We must be careful for it could be our road to ruin.
During the past few weeks, with weekly essays and ideas for writing partners, I tried to get started early, to finish my essay as soon as possible because the early bird gets the worm. I have to admit some of my essays were fired off in anger. Some of my writings were so bad I wonder why no one smelled a rat. The change in tone was often the fly in the ointment for some of my essays.
I take these classes because I want to leave no stone unturned, will leave nothing left undone in my quest to become a better writer. The reason I took this class was to turn over a new leaf since I am no longer willing to straddle the fence and watch the grass grow.
I sometimes think I should never be doing this, self doubt creeps in and I feel this is like beating a dead horse. I should stop, that perhaps it would be better to let sleeping dogs lie. I write constantly but fear that I am making much ado about nothing. I worry that my words will become like a white elephant, something readers will shun like the plague. Perhaps I should just bite the bullet, beat a retreat and accept the fact that my work will be as welcome as ants at a picnic. Sometimes I feel that what I am doing is like putting a square peg in a round hole. I know that sounds like sour grapes.
Eventually the swing of the pendulum will prove that all dogs have their day if they just toe the line and refuse to be fenced in. I feel I have passed the test of time. If I have any talent I will not look a gift horse in the mouth, but instead I will fire a barrage of work, and in so doing make hay while the sun shines. I am going to get into writing hook line and sinker, and launch a campaign while I am able. My chances of becoming a best selling author may be as long as a country mile but my desire is growing like a weed. I want to write at ninety miles per hour because I am not willing to let sleeping dogs lie if you see what I mean. Before I am over the hill and have bought the ranch, I want to see a book of mine sell like hot cakes when it is hot off the press. Now that I am out of the closet, I want to hit the road, find myself in the middle of nowhere. I have to work at this because staying home and feathering my nest will produce nothing but a sea of red ink.
With that in mind I am going to toss my hat into the ring, cut a wide path with a full head of steam and prove that I am not ready to be put out to pasture, that you truly can teach an old dog new tricks. With all my friends dropping like flies, and before I am dead as a doornail, its an open and closed case that I should be writing about these people, that doing so will not bite the hand that feeds you but will present a horse of a different color to many that are blind as a bat. Some of the things I will write about may make your skin crawl, but at least the reader will get the picture. You got a problem with that?
To do nothing would be like walking the plank, so I have to man the pumps, commit these lives to history because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so to speak. It will be easier for me to pass through the eye of a needle than to write about my friends because I have always believed that silence is golden. Through my words I will paint a broad canvas of their lives, proving that birds of a feather do flock together, that after years of living with each other, these couples were like two peas in a pod. Many of my friends’ lives were E-ticket rides, often moving around the country with no advance warning because a rolling stone gathers no moss. Others were cute as a button and had friends in high places proving that politics makes strange bedfellows. This work may fire a shot over the bow for some and become a fly in the ointment of others, but before the-you-know-what hits the fan, my words will flow like greased lightening, giving my friends memory a new coat of paint. I can create this work here where I live now because a man’s home is his castle, or from any old port in a storm. Since what I say goes, and before I run out of steam, I will start this project. It will be printed only, no video, no film at eleven. Some still living do not want their stories told, and have threatened me by saying “over my dead body,” but there is no stopping me now, its full steam ahead.