Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“Writing 101” by Liz White

I was going to keep this a secret but when I ran into trouble with technology I knew I would have to come clean before I wanted to.  Staring at my computer screen, my voice bubbled to the surface and I yelled out, “F***! Why is this happening?  Why can’t I send it? Like f***!”
     Ugh, now I was going to have to get help from my son, our resident technology guru. I grabbed my iPhone and texted: “Hey, do you have a minute to help me with something on my computer?”
     He answered by surfacing immediately from the basement, happy to take a break from his studies. Besides, the food was upstairs, not downstairs. “What’s up? What can’t you do?” he inquired as he made his way to the fridge and buried his head deep inside.
     “I’m trying to send an email to this guy but the email isn’t sending. Like what’s the deal?”        “Relax, Mom.” He came sauntering over with an apple in his mouth and plopped himself down tightly beside me just like he did when he was a little boy ready for a bedtime story.  Turning my computer in his direction, he carefully studied the screen from top to bottom. “What is this I’m looking at? Is, is this a course?”
     "Yeah, It is. A writing course. Like why isn't it working?"
     “Awesome! Okay, so here. Stop trying to use the email link on his website. Let’s just copy and paste his email into your email. It’s way easier. Re-type your message then hit send when you’re done.  It should work. Okay?”
     “Okay! Here goes nothing.”  I typed as fast as I could while Clarke was still in the general vicinity just in case I encountered more technical difficulties.  After my email was written and proofread, I took a picture of the screen as a memento, and titled it: “The scariest thing I have ever done – enrolling in a writing course … yikes!!!”
     I inhaled deeply and hit send.
     My shriek of excitement filled the air with “Donnne!  Now I wait!”
     With a hearty laugh, Clarke gave me a thumbs-up before he retreated to the basement with a fistful of snacks. 
     Two weeks flew by and I finally receive an email confirming my spot in the course. 
     September fast approached and my kids were as excited for me as I was to begin this writing adventure.
     “So, Mom, tonight’s the night! You’re actually going to class!” my daughter exclaimed.
     “Yup, I am.”  In that moment, I felt the common bond of being a student again, just like my kids; they too are continuing their education to enhance their professions.
     Walking into the first night of class was thrilling and terrifying at the same time.  The course details were carefully laid out and included a section of time to write in class and to share that piece with small peer groups, as well a “show and tell” element.  Kindergarten stuff all over again, but this seemed way scarier than kindergarten.
     Our trusty teacher asked for volunteers for the following week.  
     Look away, I thought.  Look casual.  Don’t panic. Don’t pick me. And to my delight others offered and I escaped the first round.  Phew! Maybe next week but not this week. 
     After class I rushed home and found my kids waiting for me around the kitchen island, eager for details.  I was giddy with excitement and couldn’t talk fast enough.
     “So, how was it?” Clarke and Kelli probed sitting on the edge of their seats.
     “Oh my god, it was so fun and terrifying.  We write in class and then get paired up with others and we share that writing.  Like man, that’s scary stuff.  And – we all have to do this “show and tell” part, like bring something in and read your shit out loud in front of everyone.  Man, I’d better get a head start for next week and start brain-storming. I gotta go! Like for real I have to start writing.”
     And I did. And pretty soon it wasn’t as scary. I even did show and tell – read a piece about biking down Haleakala in Maui for my tell and brought a series of pictures of that adventure for my show.
     Thank you “Writing Personal Stories” for showing up in my hometown.

Liz White is a lover of words who was looking for a writers' group to inspire her to write on a regular basis. “Writing Personal Stories” with Brian came to her hometown of Burlington and fit that niche. Now she plans to work her way through all of Brian’s courses.

The next Writing Personal Stories course is on Friday afternoons, starting April 13 in Toronto (see here). See details of all seven weekly classes, from Introductory to Intensive,  starting this spring here.

See Brian Henry’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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