I took a big step outside of my comfort bubble last night. Ever since I escaped shift work and started my new day job, I’ve been muttering about taking a class of some sort. Frustrated with my endless procrastination, I dedicated an afternoon to searching the internet for online professional certificate courses to push my career along, but became discouraged when I found that legitimate courses are very expensive. But I was tired of always saying I wanted to do something, and never doing it, so I decided to start small instead of giving up. Baby steps aren’t much, but they’re better than standing still. I registered for a writing class at the community college.
My first class was last night. I wasn’t given any information beyond the name of the high school where the classes were held, so all I brought with me was a good pen and a slightly-used yellow spiral notebook, figuring that I’d at least have the basics covered. Notebook in hand, I stepped nervously through the front door to the school and was greeted by a helpful volunteer who showed me to my classroom.
The desks were tiny, arranged in three neat rows facing a chalkboard half-filled with a teacher’s precise handwriting. I saw that the class was reading and analyzing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, and I smiled to myself, thinking it was probably just as well that I never had to read that one at school, or I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Sometimes, reading too much into a book takes all the joy out of reading the book.
I was alone at first, twenty minutes early on purpose so that tardiness wouldn’t add to my anxiety. The door was behind me, hidden at the end of a short hallway, so each time I heard the click of a new student arriving, I had to turn and wait to see who would appear. One by one, my five classmates came in and chose their seats. It’s a very small class – only six women – and I am by far the youngest student. It feels strange to be taking a class about memoir and legacy writing when I’m not really old enough to have much of a life story, especially when I’m sitting there beside women in their seventies and eighties who have done so many incredible things.
When the teacher asked us to introduce ourselves and tell her why we were taking the class, I told everyone that I’m a Canadian import who came here for love, and that I love to write and want to learn more about it so that my blog will be better and maybe someday I’ll write down my family’s interesting stories for my grandchildren to read. I then had to explain a “blog” to my oldest classmate.
I hope I like the class, and I hope I do well. It’s not for credit, but I will feel better if I can notice a difference in my writing, or at least in my approach to writing, by the end. We do writing exercises and share our work, which terrifies me. How strange that I can put my work online and not feel anxious about how it will be received, but reading a paragraph to the class makes my voice tremble. But it’s not a challenge if it doesn’t push me, so I’m going to do my best.
The first bit I read aloud to the class was the result of the teacher’s instructions to find an important moment in my life and write about it for ten minutes. No other guidelines, just put something on paper and share it. I wrote about my first date with my husband, and while I would definitely go back and polish it up before presenting it to the world as an example of what I can do, it made the class laugh, and writing it made me happy.
I’m not sure whether I will, or whether I even should, share the results of my writing exercises with the internet. Who wants to read my memories, anyway? The important thing is that I followed through on a goal I set for myself, and I’m trying to be creative and find a way to grow a little. Wish me luck.