So after six weeks and 12 lessons, I decided that online writing classes do not suck. In fact, it was actually quite a bit of fun.
Each of the classes - I signed up through Portland Community College, but the classes were done by a company called ed2go - focused on a specific basic component of writing, with plenty of exercises and examples. Each class also had a written assignment, which was then shared in a message board/forum system for analysis by the teacher and by our peers. There was also a five-question, multiple-choice quiz each week.
I feel like I learned quite a bit. Few of the concepts, admittedly, were new ones to me, but I could remember back to various English classes when I was first introduced to them and understand better why things are as they are. Given I now want to actively use the concepts to write seriously, they mean more.
Most education seems wasted on youth, I believe. It was all great back then, but there was no perspective involved, so most things were learned, tested upon, and summarily disregarded as unimportant.
The end goal of this class was to write a 500-word creative piece, which ended up being our final assignment. It could stand on it's own or be part of a larger piece, so I chose to write a scene from the oft-mentioned novel in my head I hadn't started. 1,900 words and multiple revisions later, I'm pretty proud of the scene I created. (As it turns out it's probably Chapter 2 of the manuscript and Chapter 1 hasn't been written. Whatever. Is that important?)
I took the final, which was holy-crap-36-multiple-choice-questions, and only missed one, which wasn't bad since I didn't study anything - just like back in college. I submitted my final creative piece to the forum for feedback.
I admit it - I was pretty damn proud of myself for writing the piece. Not only because I thought it read well, but because it represents finally starting the book I've been planning for awhile. It's the first step of a journey that will probably be pretty long. Fun times!
In all honesty I had no issues letting others read it. I liked it and thought others would too. I've been writing for the world on the net - here and elsewhere - long enough that a little criticism wasn't going to bother me. As it turned out, people seemed to really enjoy it. I deliberately wrote a serious action scene for this purpose, but everyone said they'd read more, which is all I can hope for, right? My teacher - as teachers are wont to do - knocked me down a couple pegs with some critiques, but she was spot on. I will make those changes, right the first chapter, and then move on with the rest of the story.
After taking the class I feel stronger than ever that this is what I need to do. So strongly, in fact, I signed up for another online class specifically about novel planning, which I found through Tawna Fenske's quite funny blog on gifts for writers.
Unfortunately for people hanging on my every word on this blog - probably no one - it means blog production is going down. I won't be writing any less, it just won't be in this space. Once or twice a week, maybe some cute Misaki and kitty pictures when the opportunity presents itself, but I'm shifting my focus for the moment.
You know, just until the BEST SELLER is written. What, are my expectations too high? Shrug.
Right - I have no doubt this will end up being a humbling experience. Or maybe it won't. I really have no idea, but it will be fun.