Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Literary WMD

Michelle's post got me thinking of an incident in one of my high school senior classes. I believe it was the last Creative Writing Course you could take, CW IV, I think.

The class was tweleve students,. me and eleven girls.

You know, I hate to say it now, but I think I loved that class and not for the subject mattter. I think pink fuzzy sweaters might have had something to do with it.

But I digress.

During the poetry writing section of the course, I vividly remember being dejected. Moody, even. Morose.

"Anthony, why the sad face," asked Mrs. Reid, the English teacher asked me while I was at her desk.

"My poetry sucks. All of it."

"Just yesterday the entire class loved your last poem."

"Oh yeah, look at what my girlfriend sent me in the nail." I handed her the poem.

Mrs. Reid read the poem and sighed.

"Look, some people are just naturally talented."

Another student snatched the poem from me as Mrs. Reid was handing it back.

She read it. "Oh geeze, excuse me while I go burn all my poetry in shame. Thanks, Anthony."

The rest of the class was very interested in the scene unfolding in front of the room. Mrs. Reid, in charge of the a dozen teenage angst-y writers, thought pretty quickly. "Class dismissed, we're done for the day."

I learned two things: In creative writing, no matter how good you think you are, you can, and will, run into someone better at it.

Also, some writing is just so damn good, it's a weapon of mass destruction. Use sparingly.


  1. Anthony, thanks for this. It's sadly true that we aren't (1) the center of the universe when it comes to our writing, and (2) we will always have room to grow. That being said, it's important to remember we will always have an audience who loves our work, even with "better" things out there. I think "better" is a very relative term, as well. It can shift and change depending on who is defining what is better.

    When writing, I think one of the best things we can do is judge our work in our own universe, if that makes sense, instead of holding up an orange to a basket of apples and wishing our life away that the orange become an apple.

  2. I think even if there was such a thing as a creative writing class in my high school, I wouldn't have taken it. I wasn't in that mindset when I was in high school. I wasn't a hardcore sports guy, or anything like that, but I was, and still am, kind of an adrenaline junkie. I was also the kid that wanted to see how things were put together, so you'd often see me taking them apart, and most of the time I could get them put back together, well, if you didn't count the extra parts.

    I have been a reader for a long time though, so a few years ago I thought I would give writing a shot. I'm glad I did. I really enjoy it, but as you say, I find writers all the time that make me wonder why I bothered to even try.

    I keep going though because I think writing is 90% tenacity, and 10% talent, but then again it could be the other way around. All I know is you have to keep writing.

  3. I hear what you are saying.

    That girl and I actually did burn out poetry that very afternoon. It was awesome and cathartic. Our poetry when from pretentious and angst-y to raw and honest.

    Sometimes you need a flaming kick in the butt to get with it. :-)


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