Perhaps it’s needless to say that it’s been a few years since I’ve had homework. I graduated from college the first time back in 1986. I’ve had continuing education courses since then, but even they seem like they are in my distant past.
So when I hired a mentor/guide/coach – Christopher Rosales – to keep me on track while I worked through this close to final draft of Throwing Rocks at God, I should’ve considered the fact that he taught creative writing at the University of Colorado. So why did I foolishly believe there would be no homework from our working together?
Christopher’s insight was nuanced and, in my educated opinion, quite amazing. It was epiphanal for me. For the two hours we spent discussing and dissecting the novel, I felt long-closed doors swinging open in my mind, felt the passion returning as to why I love this story, the characters that inhabit it, and being the one who channels their lives through my pen.
All I’ve ever wanted was to be the best writer I can possibly be. Not a dilettante. Not an apprentice.
So I spent a large portion of this week absorbing his comments and suggestions, and then, so inspired, sat down and began reworking the first 20 pages. I really like the density the story is developing, with some awesome subtext and deeper characterizations.
Then came the homework. First assignment was to write a commentary on the quality and usefulness of the instructor’s comments. That was easy, because there were only glowing things to say.
Second assignment was to write three vignettes, each depicting the main character, Luther, at work, play, and home. That assignment took most of an 8-hour day. My motivation was so inspired, though, that the resulting writing was some of the best work I’ve done.
I used to subscribe to the theory – derived from a Buddhist proverb – that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. We all have the opportunity to identify our teachers in our lives. Sometimes, we invite them in, and the universe provides the perfect response. Because you only get what you ask for. I was very clear in my desire to bring on a teacher, because I had reached a tipping point within that dictated that it was time to do something about my passion for writing. Rosales was that answer, and I knew from the first moment I spoke with him that the fit was quite exceptional.
Rather than submit my homework assignments right away, I decided to let them simmer for a day and then revisit them to correct any missed or perceived errors, and to make sure the words that I’d written were the ones I wanted to send.
(this is how I know this is the right decision for me…typically, I’m impatient and send things too quickly, thereby submitting work that is below my known skill level. Not so here. I wanted it to be as close to perfect as I could get it.)
This morning, I sent it. There is none of the anxiousness that usually accompanies writing submissions. This, too, is a good sign. I *know* without any doubt whatsoever that it’s my best writing. And…the vignettes are very likely going to become scenes within the novel.
I am thrumming with excitement right now.
Can you feel it?