Conversations with my annoyance

I’ve been trying to think through why it was that Monday night’s class annoyed me as much as it did.

Perhaps it all boils down to jarred expectations. I went away and did what I thought was our homework: I took my selected pitch, I fleshed out the characters and considered the stuff that I’d need to address in a first issue, and developed a story that, I felt, gave a useful introduction to the setting, the characters, and the overarching themes, and also had a bit of action/adventure for fun. I broke down my story into a story map — I know exactly what’s happening on each page. I’ve already had to hack and slash some of the stuff that I wish I had room for. But I was really happy with the story and wanted to feel good about it a bit.

So it was a bit of a unwelcome surprise that the class just boiled down to “describe your story in three sentences and then I’m going to ask you to change it in a couple of very specific ways.” And part of me totally gets this. First up, there just isn’t time in the class to go over everybody’s stories. We’ve got about 10 people in the class and we ran through two big exercises last night. We each get about 5 minutes to talk through our exercises — you just can’t go in to the details in that kind of time frame.

It’s also true that the amount of prep each student is bringing to class varies wildly. I have a full story map for my story; others are still figuring out overall plot details. Ty’s picking exercises that everyone can engage with (seemingly regardless of whether or not they did their homework). I get it. But some part of me feels like I’m back in grade school and being asked to go at the speed of the slowest student.

Hm. That sounds egotistical. It seems like I’m saying, “I’m too much of a power user for this class!” I think I’m probably about average: I do a not-bad job on some exercises and I flail on others. Much like everyone else. But I do think that there’s a lot of handwaving when it comes to homework.

And then there’s a part of me that still fundamentally believes that writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, and while I think that the class has provided some interesting tools for inspiration, and good tools for developing some of those inspirations beyond, “oh, here’s an idea,” I feel like we’re not really a writing class if we’re not doing the 90% perspiration part. Sigh. I guess that nobody’s stopping me from doing the perspiration on my own; I just wish that there was meaningful opportunity for in-class feedback. And again: when I do the math, I can see why it can’t fit. Too many students; not enough time. Maybe I just got too used to the George Brown classes: Anthony would come by each of our desks and give us some one-on-one time.

I do have one more kvetch. And again: I can see why the structure is the way it is. Much of the structure of the class involves Ty introducing one of his rules/templates/constraints and then we do an exercise oriented around that rule/template/constraint. We take 15 minutes to jot notes or write some stuff down, and then we discuss our results. Ty gives feedback as each person describes their approach: “No, that doesn’t quite work; can you see how it doesn’t fit the structure? What could make it better?” It’s a very pragmatic, learn-by-doing approach, and in the inking class I took, it was exactly what I wanted. But, for me, at some level writing demands reflection and pondering. I don’t think I produce great stuff in 15 minutes. And I want to produce my best stuff. Last class, the guy in front of me actually came out and said, “I can’t just come up with stuff off the top of my head. I need time to think.” And I grok that. Totally.

Maybe I just need to be comfortable with the idea that the class is fine; it just doesn’t fit my needs. No judgement; no one’s at fault. And it’s not like there’s any problem with future classes: there are only two parts of the writing class, and I’m in part two and there’s only one more class left. And I think that Ty’s teaching style will work perfectly for me when it comes to the art-based classes. So, y’know, it’s not like I invested a lot of time and money and had to bail part-way.

I just feel like I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me: it looked like the class was going somewhere that was really going to work for me, and then, no, it went somewhere else instead.

Maybe I should consider doing something like Clarion.

Comments are closed.