Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For the First Time Ever

Five months ago today I plummeted into a ravine, prompting me to start this blog. Though I had been working on a novel for over two years by that point, for the first time ever I began to share my writing.1 The novel has since gone through long periods of neglect,2 but I enjoy the feedback I get from the blog. I like knowing that my words are entertaining (and/or completely nonplussing) people.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to take it one step further. With helpful prodding from my friend Jen — the same Jen, I might add, who got me started on my novel in the first place — I joined a writing class. It’s held online, with one assignment per week, and everyone in the class provides feedback on each others’ stories. It, too, keeps me from my novel, but for the first time ever, my writing is finally getting constructive criticism. I thought my work might garner harsher critiques, but so far it’s all been pretty helpful, both in terms of the writing and the ego boost.

The first assignment wasn’t too difficult, but this past week’s was mighty challenging: to write a scene between two people in love, without dialogue, that demonstrated their love through action rather than telling. I had all these great ideas for wicked little tales, but couldn’t manage to both “show, not tell” and go without dialogue. I would have figured out how eventually, but before I did, I came up with a way to challenge myself even further. And that is how I simultaneously, with one exercise:
  • wrote a serious story, without any humor or a twist ending, for the first time ever;
  • adapted part of someone else’s life for use in a story, for the first time ever;
  • wrote a story in the present tense, for the first time ever; and
  • amazed even myself with my descriptive imagery. For the first time ever.
I know I still have a long way to go. In general, my physical descriptions are weak, I use adverbs and the passive voice too often, and I certainly tell more than I show. This class will hopefully change that. Little by little, I’ll chip away the flaws in my writing until I’m left holding a literary masterpiece.

That, or a giant pile of flaws.

1 Okay, that’s just an outright lie on my part. I had a web site between 1997-2001, and at least 103 people visited. How do I know this? I know this because that’s how many people commented in my guestbook. Remember back when sites still had guestbooks? Or when they received awards from other random sites? Mine got 22 awards in its first year of existence, including the “Cow Patrol Top 10” and “The Fishing Pier Award of Excellence.” I even had one of those lame counters at the bottom of the home page, which… wait, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah... For the second time ever, I began to share my writing.
2 The current drought stands at 34 days. (And counting...)


  1. For the first time ever, I'm interested in the idea of this online writing class...can you get me the info on what it entails?

  2. Scott, I may have misrepresented it as a class; it's more of a workshop. They're not really teaching so much as they are providing writing prompts (each with a different focus, such as dialogue or setting) and a community where you can get feedback from other writers. Eight writing prompts, two two-week periods to work on a separate short story. Full price: $30, though you had to register before Jan 4. I think this is the first time the site ( has run one of these workshops, but I can certainly let you know if they have another one in the future, if you're interested.

  3. Nate, please let me know if they decide to hold anohter workshop as well. I used to be somewhat of a writer.