A Writer of Fiction

“As a writer of fiction you are at constant pains not simply to say what you mean, but to mean than what you say.”

-Janet Burroway

Today I’m finally going to get around to writing about my favorite class. For the first time ever, I’m taking a class about writing – the thing I love. It’s entitled “Writing of Fiction I.” We do exactly what the title says and a little more. We don’t only write, but we read. We read a lot of short stories and writings about how to use dialogue and what detail is too much detail.

Today, though, I want to specifically focus on my first day of class. As I was super excited, I showed up extra early. There were a couple people there when I arrived, spread sporadically about the room. (The first day of class is always about how to sit as far away as possible from everyone else.) I tried to examine everyone’s mannerisms to find out if they knew what the class had in store for us and if they were there because they chose to or because they had to. Then I saw a boy in the corner pull out a book and start to read, so I figured that it must be the former option, at least for him.

Before going any further, I would just like to examine the rarity of pulling out a book – an actual book – before class. When in college, and maybe even just school in general, people are constantly on their phones, their laptops, or maybe even doing some last minute homework assignments before class. However, I have never seen anyone reading a book before class in college. Prior to starting the action of reading, he even counted the number of pages left in the chapter and looked at the clock with eyes full of hope. It was as if he was afraid he wouldn’t have enough time to finish the chapter he was on before the start of class. I immediately knew that I was in the right place.

I also want to talk about the room because I really think it contributes to the creative process. The left wall of the room, the one facing the outside, is completely composed of glass stones. It allows the light from the outside to escape into the room and the sparkle of the snow to come inside. My professor also insists that we sit in a circle everyday and face each other as we write, read, and share. Normally I think it’s something I would shy away from and scare me, as seeing everyone’s faces as you read something deeply personal is an intimidating thing. However, I think it only provides me with more confidence.

One thing I really admire about the class in general is that everyday there is time to write. I’ve only known writing as something you do in private, locked away in your room with your keyboard and your thoughts. It’s strange that it can be anything else, but it can be and it is. I sit in class and face everyone in the room as I write with a pen on paper and occasionally share what I have written to those who listen.

The first writing exercise that we ever got in class was one of my favorites. My professor said to “make a list of people you haven’t seen for a while or think you will never see again.” It’s scary how surprisingly easy this can be, especially after just graduating high school. Then, she told us to pick one of those people and start to write a scene where that person is interacting with the surroundings. After some time, she stopped us and told us to then write a scene with that same person, but ten years prior. It’s fascinating how much emotion you can give to the people in stories that you have so much emotion towards in reality.

As an ending note, I want to encourage all of you to do some writing yourselves. It’s crazy how much you can surprise yourself and how many stories you have in your head without even realizing it, but they can only come out if you let them.




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