Sitting at my old hangout, The Green Sage, writing on the sort-of-notebook blog because my trusty real notebook isn't handy. I know of two, maybe three, people who actually subscribe to this blog, which is why I'm pretty comfortable posting a "journal entry" type thing that isn't really meant for anyone else's eyes.
I have signed up for a writing class that begins next week. The negative people in my life have already pointed out that this is going to be a lot of work (as if I wasn't aware), while the positive people have said it's good that I'm doing a little something for myself. It's a $450 "little something" that will take me away from my daughter one evening a week for the next fifteen weeks, so I admit to having struggled with the question of whether I should do this or not. It will be a time commitment, too; the class isn't just the 2.5 hours each week I'll be spending in the classroom, but the minimum one-hour block of time I'll need to set aside daily for it.
And then there's the effort of trying to be creative when my mind has been on a mindless treadmill of working-mommy to-do lists for the past few years. I took a class last spring in hopes of jump-starting my creative mind, but it didn't really; I ended up doing the absolute minimum I could--not because I was goofing off or being lazy, but because I simply didn't have the time to do more. And that "absolute minimum" typically got done during my lunch hour on the day of the weekly class meeting.
Still, I wrote some good things. I created a great little character named Lydia, and I revisited one of my old-people characters that developed from my experience working at a nursing home in the late 1990s. I also wrote about the psychiatrist who brainwashed me back in the early 1990s. It was probably my worst offering of the course, and not something I'll go back to.
Which brings me to the question I've been pondering--or have been wanting to ponder when I found the time: What am I going to write about in this course? Do I want to start something new? Do I want to go back to an old project I never completed (which is nearly every project I've ever started)?
I have a few candidates. I'll refer to them by the names of their main characters.
Lydia. I really like this Lydia character. I also like the 10-year-old narrator who is Lydia's sometime friend. I like the dynamic between the two, along with Lydia's cousin (their third of their little group), and I'd like to explore it more. I have no idea what kind of plot I would develop out of all this; right now, I just want to spend some time with the characters and explore their setting.
Shelley. This is a novel I started years ago. I'd written seventeen chapters when I got my tech writing job at Drake in 2008, and, as always happens when I get a job, my creative writing came rudely to a halt. I took a week-long vacation in 2009 (before my daughter was born) and wrote chapter 18, but by then I'd lost my momentum. I still think Shelley's story is compelling, and the draft contains some of the best writing I've ever done. A big part of me would like to go back to this project, but it's hard to say whether I should. I've changed a lot since I started that novel. I may be dealing with a creative "you-can't-go-home-again" situation here; I wonder if I'll be able to write the novel I started to write, or if I'll even want to. Or if I'll want to work on it but change everything, which doesn't seem like a good idea, ever.
Jared and Saundra. This is a just-for-fun romance I wrote last year. And it was fun, for the first draft. I never finished it, though, and I'd like to go back and make it something worth reading. I don't know if that's what I want to focus on in this class; I don't know if it's the right thing for this class, since it's very much a work of genre fiction.
Dylan. Dylan's story is very similar to Shelley's, in that they are in similar job roles at similar institutions. In fact, I think I was exploring Dylan's story when I came up with Shelley's, and the Shelley story was the one that blossomed. For seventeen chapters, at least.
Ryan. This is a story idea I came up with when working on my for-fun romance. It really was a pleasure to use a plot-structure recipe, to just fill in the blanks and focus on writing while not worrying so much about plot. I knew I wasn't writing great literature, but I was having fun writing--something I hadn't done in a while, And all writing is practice. Anyway, the Ryan story is another one of these recipe stories. Again, while I think the characters are compelling, the genre probably isn't right for the class. But because the characters are compelling, I wonder if I can take them out of their by-the-numbers plot and put them into something more organic. Something more me.
Vance. This is a character based on the psychiatrist who brainwashed me. I don't know if I want to go back there. I certainly don't need to. Some things are better left in the past, you know? Still, I can see a compelling story coming out of it.
There are a few more story ideas, but that's all they are--ideas. Some of the above ideas have hundreds of pages of draft and notes written, while others just have a dozen or two.
Class starts Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how it goes--whether the discussions will lead me toward one idea or another, or to something completely new.