Unexpectedly Being Pushed to Grow
I don’t often get pushed as a writer, forced to write in styles or about subjects outside my wheelhouse. While I want to make each work better than the last, I don’t go outside my proscribed areas of comfort and/.or expertise.
As a result, my few courses at Fairleigh Dickinson have been interesting experiences as each one has forced me to dig deep or reach beyond the familiar. Over the summer, I took Writing & Critiquing Fiction and W&C Drama, both asking me to do exercises and write about things new to me. While I write plenty of fiction, I had to write something mainstream which was tougher than it sounds. Especially since it meant creating contemporary character and conflict, something I don’t think I’ve attempted in thirty years.
For the Drama course and now in the fall’s Comedy, Satire & Parody course, I am writing sketches, skits, portions of scenes. In the former, I was given writing exercises and then told to mold them into scenes intended to help construct a one-act play. Now, I am given prompts to imitate the style of a David Sedaris essay or, this week, the beginnings of a short play based on the ones we’ve been reading and analyzing. While I can crack wise in social settings or at con panel, I don’t consider myself particularly funny and this course has been a real struggle.
All three have been good for me, especially as I write and post the work for my fellow students, and professor, to critique. The feedback has been gratifying for the most part and when it doesn’t work, they’re constructive and kind.
All in all, I suspect it making me a better writer and even editor as I continue to grow. Don’t expect me to be doing standup anytime soon, but I am gaining a better understanding of comic structure, which no doubt is a good thing.
Come December, I will have completed the program and am thankful for the experience in ways I didn’t anticipate when I enrolled in spring 2015.