I’m currently enrolled in an eight-week writing course through UCLA Extension. It’s a course offered by an instructor I really like; the same woman who ran the writing retreat I attended back in May. (Here’s the link to the blog I wrote about it: http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/05/writing-driving-and-metaphor-for-life.html). It’s a course I’ve wanted to take for some time, but because it’s offered on Tuesdays from 10 am to 1 pm, teaching had always prohibited my participation.
There is something so energizing about being surrounded by other writers. Generally I write by myself -- either at home or at one of my favorite local haunts. (And really, I write outside my home just so I’m not distracted by things to do at home.) Being in a class setting, however, provides an energy and support system that isn’t entirely there when you take an online course (which is what I would periodically do while I was teaching).
Each week, we’ve got writing assignments to complete and each day, we’re supposed to be writing in a daily journal. I haven’t kept a daily journal for many years, but dutifully started one after our first class meeting. And, each week, we’re supposed to read a book (either a collection of essays or a memoir).
That last requirement is the most difficult one for me. I’m not taking this class for a grade or to earn units that can be converted to salary points. I’m taking this class for personal fulfillment. And even though I wouldn’t be punished for not completing my homework, I want to be honest and respectful to my instructor, a woman I really like and whose writing insights I value. So, I’m trudging away, trying to read my one book a week.
Week 1 -- Delia Ephron’s Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.)
Week 2 -- Sara Nelson’s So Many Books, So Little Time
Week 3 -- Ann Patchett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
I enjoy reading. I’m constantly reading, often more than one book at a time. And I don’t just limit myself to books. I’m also reading magazines and the Sunday Times (Here’s the link to the blog I wrote about reading the Sunday L.A. Times: http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-sunday-chore.html). So there’s a lot of reading to do and a short amount of time in which to get it done.
Furthermore, there’s two different ways to read. I can read as a reader and get lost in the story that the author is telling me. I can lose track of time, block out my surroundings, and escape into the book. And, I can read as a writer. I can read while examining the story in hopes of understanding the author’s craft and method. I can notice the way the author introduces her subject, the way the author concludes the essay. I am reading in hopes of gaining insight and information I can apply to my own writing.
As an added bonus, this book-a-week-deadline means I should have no problem meeting my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge.