I’m going to be totally self-indulgent this week (what’s new, says you!) and share with you one of the greatest achievements of my writing career to date. An achievement that owes more to the creative writing talents of others, rather than my own. On Wednesday, I completed my first series of creative writing classes for adults, as a tutor.
I have no idea how my students felt about the whole experience. For most of them, it was probably just something to do, a break from the routine. I doubt they experienced the rollercoaster ride of fear, awe, excitement and tenderness that I did. Or the sadness that it’s over. They’re probably delighted that they have their Wednesday nights back.
The profile of people who choose to do creative writing classes is interesting. Both as a student and as a tutor, I’ve noticed that the people who come to creative writing classes are the ones with the least amount of time to devote to the classes. People with school-age children and/or ageing parents. People looking to escape the daily grind of their lives and explore another way of being, a magical world that lies just under their noses.
Over the six weeks, they played word-games, created characters, travelled to beautiful places, went on sensual journeys and caused murder and mayhem. During the free-writing segment, they let their minds wander. Interactive exercises helped them to explore ideas. And after a well-earned break, they chewed over the writings of some of Ireland’s top writers – and a text set in Jewish London which caused a bit of a stir.
And the reward for these efforts? On the last night, the seeds that they had planted bloomed in an outpouring of creativity. Stories of haunted houses, scheming minxes and mindreaders abounded. Stories that sent delicious chills up and down our spines, made us laugh and brought lumps to our throats.
I was a good little tutor. I had done up a questionnaire for them to fill out about the course (I called it the Spill the Beans Questionnaire)! But the true measure of the success of the class lay in these stories, in the achievements of these people who had come to class with nothing but a vague curiosity and finished as writers in the making. And knowing that I had played a part in creating those stories was a humbling experience.
Bring on the next writing course!