Geography of the Mind

More on writing fiction...

I'm writing a short story. Actually it would be better to write that I am attempting to write a short story. It is a class assignment for the Fiction Writing class I'm taking and it's going to be "workshopped" next week by 14 people I barely know. I've already written some flash fiction for this class that's been workshopped and also read some short stories and written reviews for them. The more I write fiction, not only do I realize I have no idea what I'm doing, I also realize that I'm not such a great non-fiction writer either. Not as good a one as I thought anyway...fairly decent but not a great one.

Taking this college freshman class in writing fiction has been very humbling and very good for me. I'm not the only person in the class who already has a bachelors degree with writing experience, returning to school, to learn to write fiction for the "fun" of it. All of us realize now that we know very little about writing, in fact it probably would be better if we knew nothing about writing. The class members, a mixed group of all ages, who haven't yet gone through writing the long essays and papers of upper division undergraduate classes and dissertations of postgraduate classes are far better off. They've also never had to write nonfiction for a living, the world of white papers, curriculum, policies and procedures, legal briefs, correspondence templates, technical documentation.

They have much brighter, clearer, fresher eyes. I remember looking through my eyes that way once, a long time ago, and am learning a lot by looking into their eyes about seeing things anew. Inside I squeal a little bit of happiness when one of them asks something that would be considered naive amongst a group of so-called educated people. It's teaching me to not be so jaded, to look at things with an unprocessed and open mind, an opportunity for replenishment and regeneration.

I'm going to finish writing that short story and then write another and maybe even more.


  1. I think it's very cool that you're doing this, JR. There are a lot of reasons but I think, like you say, it's important to realize that there ARE people out there who want to learn about writing (or any subject, probably) and are willing to ask questions that, like you said, would be scoffed at by some. I think the world can use all the earnestness and wonder that it can get right now; it's good to know there are people (I should say "people other than myself" if I'm being honest) who look at things and wonder about them, and aren't afraid to admit they don't know everything yet. It's hopeful, and that's inspiring.

    Beyond that, I think it takes a lot of courage to do what you're doing. Maybe courage isn't the word, but I think it is. I think to create something completely within your own mind and subject it to the vision of others is a courageous act. I also think it's how all great things probably start. Could be right, could be wrong, but I think it's very cool that you're doing it.

    All I got, sir. Excellent post!

  2. Thanks for the comment (and compliment) about courage. Sometimes I wonder why I'm venturing out into unknown territory, a pattern in my life, thinking I'm risking something until I'm reminded by someone else that a lot of people wouldn't do that. I get it from my parents old saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained" I guess.

    This is truly a small exercise on a tiny level but it is teaching me so much in the larger sense.

    It is refreshing to be around people who are seeing things for the first time. I really like your thought that the world can really use all the earnestness and wonder it can get right now, since it does. It's restorative of my faith that in the timeline of history, there's always regeneration going on.