April 21st, 2009

Old School

Last night I dreamt that I was back in undergrad, and I had chosen a half-year course thinking it was a full-year. So in second term, I was a course short and somehow got thrown into a class not of my choosing, which I was completely unprepared for and hated* and was going to fail. Fairly standard anxiety dream, especially perfect given that I was going back to my old high school to speak this morning.

That’s a pretty fun thing to do, actually–I was anxious mainly because this event was postponed once before due to my laryngitis episode a few weeks ago. I was pretty thrilled to be invited back to my high school by my Writer’s Craft teacher, Pam North. When I was a whippersnapper, sitting in Writer’s Craft class writing ghost stories, Rachel Preston came to talk to us about her writing career, and made a huge impression on me. One, because she was a real writer and she still assumed human form. Two, because she said, “If you put an action or expression by the person into the same line, you don’t need a dialogue tag.” Brilliant.

I don’t think I said anything that wonderfully useful to this batch of whippersnappers, but my voice held up through the reading and my little self-intro, and then the Q&A did provide a number of quite insightful questions for me to work with. So I think we managed ok. More than anything, I wanted to convey that being a “real” (ish) writer is hard–endless drafts, rejection letters, balancing other work–but it’s something one can do. I encouraged them to send their best work to journals, to attend readings and meet other writers, to join workshop groups (after Writer’s Craft) and to take their work seriously enough to withstand the endless drafts and rejection. But not so seriously that they didn’t have any fun with it. Because what would be the point in that?

Is your bed made? Is your sweater on?

* The non-standard part of the dream was that it was a drama class called “Social Problem Dramas” and I had to star in one. I was furious, because the play wasn’t even about any particular Social Problem but, rather, the concept in general. My dreams aren’t usually so satirical.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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