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Facing Fears

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I’m sitting in a classroom, trying to slink underneath my desk so that the teacher won’t call on me. I sit amongst my clique, my fiction group. The poets are in the front of the room, young adult genre and non-fiction groups occupy the left side of the room. Three weeks into our year-long course and alliances have formed, we gravitate quickly to our own kind. A familiar feeling from twenty-five years hence. It’s high school all over again.

Actually, it’s the Writer’s Studio at a downtown university, my year to study creative writing. The crucial word here is creative, also known as my personal nemesis. By throwing tuition into this course, I’m banking on acquiring some. Or at least chiseling away cliched layers of assumption and habit to reveal whatever lies at my core. I’m hoping to find a garden planted with seedlings of inspiration, but fear a black hole.

The people that surround me are so brimming with creativity that I’m terrified into submission. A girl, wearing a hand-knitted toque, reads her reaction to a homeless woman she encountered during our break with such emotion in her voice that we fall over her words, and into stunned respect for her gifted prose. Sweet Caroline, I think, don’t make me read my vacant observation next.

We are each handed a blank piece of paper and asked to create a three dimensional sculpture to illustrate our currently writing. My heart sinks because in a pinch, I can pull an unusual adjective out of my pocket, but this requires imagination and craft. I fold and rip my piece of paper so that it opens inwards, like my protagonist, while other students produce works of origami, sculptures of mountains, vessels with twirling rudders attached, and a chess board. With dread and reluctance, I stand to show the room my crude structure.

This course not only inspires me, it terrifies me. And it’s the terror that tells me it’s the right thing.

  1. February 3, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Deanna, I am so pleased that you are pursuing this writing thing in a really real way..fears and all!!

    Laurie ******** Laurie Kocher, PhD lkocher@telus.net

    Douglas College, BC Co-Editor: Canadian Children (with Dr. Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw) SSHRC Co-Investigator: Encounters with Materials (with Drs. Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Sylvia Kind) Material Encounters March 1-19, Studio Art Gallery, Capilano University

    Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow.’ His name is ‘Today.’ ~ Gabriela Mistral (Chilean Poet 1889- 1957)

  2. Joanne
    February 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Good for you Deanna! Perfect time to do this, look forward to hearing all about school!

  3. February 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    God, I would be SOOOOOOO with you, Deanna! But congrats on facing your fears. I would be terrified to try creative writing, as well. I can’t imagine myself managing to pull off fiction of any kind–even of the “Flash” variety.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  4. February 5, 2014 at 1:16 am

    So cool! Congrats on getting in there woman!

  5. viewpacific
    February 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I can feel your fear. It feels like anticipation, maybe for something great. If I were handed the paper for that exercise I would’ve created an origami. Actually Norigami, the little-known art of Norwegian paper folding. The first sculpture is a snowball, which to the untrained eye looks like just a crumpled ball of paper.
    Any writer who started with a typewriter or pencil and paper will remember creating piles of these creations. 😉

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