I can’t believe I am writing this essay already. It seems like only yesterday, I walked into a room full of strangers, and Ryan who I knew from the previous semester, and now it’s almost over. I have to admit, I’m having a difficult time accepting that our time as a class is ending, as this was my favorite class of the semester, not just because of the material, but because of the people and their stories and passions. I feel truly blessed that we had such a community in class and I will miss it greatly.
This entire semester was a huge journey for me. It was my first semester as a Writing major, newly switched over from education, and Creative Writing was only my second official Writing class. I picked Creative Writing to start my actual journey into this major because I had written for fun in the past, yet it had been years since I had written anything that was not academic and I wanted to dust off the old tools. However, with the enthusiasm soon came anxiety. I was worried that I would not be good enough or that I would never be able to translate my ideas effectively to readers. All in all, my fears subsided once I entered Classroom 449 on that first class day.
Professor Bhandari’s eagerness for creative writing was infectious and the class seemed to all be on board. Suddenly, I found myself excited to write with so many ideas in my head that I could barely contain them all! I believe this is best shown through my Topic Identification paper that I first wrote in the beginning of the semester. I had several ideas for themes and situations that I was going to write about, all while composing the novel that I have dreamed about writing for years. The only aspect I wasn’t particularly thrilled about was the poetry. Yet, even then, because I was at a point of such enthusiastic bliss, I thought I could conquer anything that was thrown at me! In the beginning, I was over ambitious and felt like anything was possible.
To parallel, at the start of the semester, we also created blogs that we were expected to use as notebooks for submission of assignments, daily journaling, and whenever inspiration to write struck us. I wasn’t happy with the idea of a blog. First, I was always annoyed with bloggers and felt they felt they were too good to be published, so they “self-published” in online formats. Second, I believed my blog was going to be a page that was never visited and no one would care about, so it was going to be a waste of time and energy. Lastly, I didn’t like the idea of forcing myself to write and having to find the time for it. Regardless of my feelings, however, I did create a blog titled, “Not Like the Movies,” a personal stab at the superficial movie industry that I am begrudgingly named after. In the beginning of Creative Writing, I had a conflict of emotions: enthusiasm to write, yet distaste of a required blog. Fortunately, this was only the start of my journey and things did change.
Throughout the first half of the semester we read works by accomplished authors, essays on important craft lessons, and were encouraged to think about creative writing logically, something I had never done. Next came the time to actually write by starting our short story or novel excerpt. Although I had previously been dead set on writing my “amazing” novel, since I had logically thought about my writing style and preferences, I knew short stories were more suited for me. This is when I wrote the first draft of what became, “The Other Half,” my story about Lily and Danny, a pair of soulmates who were dealing with Danny losing his fight with cancer. After I read the draft out loud to the class, both my classmates and professor made suggestions that gave me a reality check with my writing. I had good ideas, but I wasn’t developing them so well. I have to admit, that first critique did hurt my feelings; I think it was because I was too confident that to be told anything different was an insult to me. However, looking back, they were exactly the comments I needed to improve my writing. I was too stuck in my academic writing ways and needed to dive further into creative writing and its styles. Next, I was introduced to Creative Non-Fiction writing for the first time. I had never even heard of the term before, but I fell in love with it once I learned about what it was. I used the night my grandfather passed away on my sixteenth birthday as a topic for my first Creative Non-Fiction work and it was therapeutic to turn such a tragedy into a piece of writing. Finally, I was also introduced to villanelles. I had never been a fan of poetry because it never made sense to me. However, villanelles were a perfect way to ease me into the world of poems because they were structured in a way that I understood. I know my classmates groaned at the restrictive pattern, but I found it as a way to liberate me from my “No Poetry Allowed” prison. For the rest of that first half, I worked really hard to revise my writing and develop ideas and characters more clearly.
When it was time to hand in my Mid-Term Portfolio, I had a completely revamped work selection and I was proud of the progress I had made! I turned in my short story, “The Other Half,” my Creative Non-Fiction piece, “My Bittersweet Sixteen,” and my villanelle, “Life through a Photographer’s Eye.” The remainder of the semester, we watched TED talks in class by accomplished writers. Yet again, I was overcome by the speakers’ sheer passions for writing. It was just what I needed to start my second short story. This time around, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to keep my readers in the dark until the very end. This translated into a story about a young girl who comes home to find her parents have been murdered, yet by who is unknown. When I first posted my beginnings of the story on my blog, the comments from Professor Bhandari and my classmate Joran really urged me to keep going with the story. This was my first time writing such a style of story and I was nervous, but their encouragement and interest in my ideas really pushed me to power through my doubts. Though this half of the semester was shorter, I felt like a more experienced writer, so I thought about my writings in a whole new way. Instead of thinking about my writing logically after I wrote it, I thought about it logically as I wrote it, which made a world of difference in what I wrote. The last half of the semester also consisted of reworking our Mid-term Portfolio pieces and experimenting with different styles of writing, all meant to result in a Final Portfolio.
Everything up to this point leads me to today, the submission of my Final Portfolio and the very last time that I will be a Creative Writing student in Professor Bhandari’s class. The ending of this class is bittersweet. That sea of twenty or so strangers that I walked into on the first day of class is now a group of faces that I know all of. I may not have talked to these people often, but I read their blogs and heard their work read aloud in class. I made a connection with people after only eighteen weeks and I was exposed to truly incredible writers of my time, and for both of these I will be forever grateful. In addition, I will have to lose the instruction of Professor Bhandari, who is now on my list of English teachers who have molded my writing into something better than what I came into the class with. In the future, I hope I can take a Creative Non-Fiction class with her, but for the time being, this is the end of our teacher and student roles with each other. On the brighter side, this class has affirmed my choice in wanting to be a Writing major. Writing is a way to express feelings and opinions through art. To be honest, I never understood the power of creative writing until I took this class. Before I looked at creative writing as a hobby that was done on a whim for fun, but now I see the true force it holds.
Although this is the end of my time with Creative Writing 2010*03, this is not the end of my writing or creative writing. My first plan of action is to continue my blog and I hope to post on it every chance I get. Now that I have forty-one followers, I feel an even stronger force to continue it! I also want to read and write more Creative Non-Fiction, and I am even looking in to submitting work to Creative Non-Fiction magazine. Today the semester ends, but my writing journey does not; in fact, I believe it is only beginning.