Today I conquered my fear…
I love to write, always have, but my writing has also always been something personal, a secret love affair between me and my pen; or for the last decade or so, between me and my laptop. But recently I decided to take my writing to the next level. By pure chance I came across a newspaper ad seeking freelancers to write short articles for a weekly newspaper. On a whim, I decided to apply and to my surprise they hired me!
Monthly, I’m given a list of people to interview, mostly upcoming artists or people who are doing something positive for the community. The articles are upbeat stories that show the many talented and kindhearted people we have on the island.
The experience left me craving for more and that’s when I decided to start a blog. I was hesitant at first since my writing skills are a lot better than my computer skills (or at least I hope so, if not I’m doomed!). My daughter gave me the final push I needed by offering to do a joint blog; she would set it up and we would both write on it, plus she would help me with photographs to liven it up since she’s even more passionate about photography than writing.
And so, the X versus Z blog was born. But I still had one major obstacle to conquer: participating in a creative writing class. All this time my writing has been a mostly private thing; the articles I submit might be appearing in print, but they were written in the privacy of my home. There was no face to face with an editor or anyone else when handing in an assignment.
There aren’t many writing courses available on the island so when I found out about one (through one of my interviews I might add!), I figured it was a sign; it was time to bite the bullet and go for it. I signed up and timidly showed up for my first class. I didn’t know what to expect or what was expected of me, so I showed up with my laptop, three pens and two notebooks…I wanted to be prepared for all eventualities. What I wasn’t prepared for was the actual setup of the class. Not a classroom but just a small group of aspiring writers sitting under the shade of a huge tamarind tree. It was all very laid back and relaxed. We were given different prompts and each time you had 15 minutes to write something about the prompt or whatever else came to mind, or you could even not write at all and just wander around in the garden to enjoy the breeze, soak up the sun and maybe some inspiration as well. When time was called, everyone took turns reading their story (which you could also decline to do if you didn’t feel like sharing) while the rest of the group would listen intently and give positive feedback after each story.
I was surprised at how easily the words flowed from my pen (I decided to go with pen and paper as it seemed more fitting to the setting…plus, no one else brought a laptop!) and when the different stories were read out loud, I was even more surprised. It’s truly amazing how everyone puts a different and creative twist to the same prompt. When it was my turn to read out loud my palms were all sweaty and my voice shaky and probably squeaky too, I’d never done this before; read something personal that I had just written out loud…to strangers! I stammered a bit at the beginning, then I sped up too much, ignoring all commas, exclamation marks and full stops. I took a deep breath, tried to calm myself down and plowed on, changing pitch and speed as I neared the end of my story. I probably sounded like a first-time driver trying to manage a stick-shift car, getting constantly stuck between first and second gear, but no matter…after a few more agonizing minutes it was over. I had done it! I participated in my first creative writing class; I conquered my fear!