Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Lighted Candle

So, I’ve completed Lesson 3 of my “Beginning Writer’s Workshop” class (found on the ed2go website).  The objective of that lesson was to “Get acquainted with the variety of forms available to the creative writer.

When I was thinking about signing up for the course,  I was somewhat apprehensive.
As I read through the instructor’s description of the course, this sentence is what convinced me that this class was exactly what I was looking for:

“This exciting, hands-on course for the creative writing novice is filled with challenging exercises, expert advice, and plenty of direct support and encouragement.

Although it was scary for me to think that “plenty” would not only be reading my assignments, but also making comments, I was hopeful that they, the “plenty”, would also be  providing plenty of constructive feedback.
My initial impression was that we would be a small group.  I also thought that the group, along with the instructor and the instructor’s assistants would be reading and commenting on everyone’s assignments.

So, this is the way it really is.  The class has 300 participants.  There is a short quiz and a writing assignment at the end of each lesson.   In order to have the assignment read, it has to be submitted to the discussion area.  The discussion area is in a forum format.
Unless otherwise noted, the instructor or one of her assistants will read and comment on each assignment submitted.
The students can also read and comment on each assignment submitted.
The first lesson’s assignment was:

This is what I submitted:

I did receive a comment on my first assignment.

Although it was not quite specific, it was certainly encouraging.

I was determined to be an active member of the class.  I promised myself that I would read and comment on each and every one of those 300 assignments.

After plugging through the first 50 or so, I knew that there was no way I would be able to read and comment on all of them.  Heck, I could not even manage to read all of them.

Since the default sort of the forum is by date created, I quickly realized that those who were among the first to submit their assignments were the ones whose pieces would most likely be read.

By the time I submitted mine it fell somewhere in the middle of the list.

What I found interesting about the 50 or so introductions that I did have the chance to read was that most of the writers wanted to achieve their life long dream of having a piece of work published.

This is not something that I am aiming for.

So far, I have to say, the lessons have been helpful and I am learning new information about writing and I’m gaining knowledge.

The title of Lesson 2 is “On Detail and Description”.   I learned several things.

  1.  Be specific instead of vague.   
  2. A major virtue of a well-written vivid description is that the reader will stop seeing words on a page and mentally experience the thing, person or place I am describing.
  3. When I am describing something I care about, ideas will naturally tend to emerge. 
  4. By selecting details that show how a person is feeling is the most effective way to communicate emotion. 
  5. Be as honest as you can when writing description. 
I found this to be an eye-opening lesson.   I realized that when I write my blog, I depend heavily on photos instead of words.

The assignment for lesson 2 was:

I found this to be a difficult, yet rewarding challenge.  It was fascinating to intently concentrate on an object and realize that I was able to notice such fine detail that I would not ordinarily have seen nor appreciated.

Here’s my
 “Lighted Candle”
The vintage brass candleholder is the type that might have been carried by the Lady of the house to light the way up the darkened hallway, guiding her to her chamber. The curved handle is crafted into a floral shape with a loop to fit a thumb and forefinger. A white candle sits in the center of the flower. The square base was apparently designed with molded sides so that it would accommodate a box of matches or perhaps a few trinkets.  Presently it holds two pieces of gray, flat smooth lake rock along with a couple of chunks of weathered coral.  The candle has been lit before and is now half of its original size.  Although it is white, there are streaks of red running down the sides.  I am curious about why that is and find myself distracted trying to figure out how that happened.  The wax has pooled at the top but is not dripping down the sides yet.   The triangular flame appears to be dimensional.  When first lit, the flame quietly bounced up and down in a slightly rhythmic way and seemed to be floating above the blackened wick.  I had an urge to run my finger through it.    Now that it has been burning for a while, the wick has tilted and it’s end is hotly glowing red.   The urge to run my finger through it has wisely disappeared.  

I received only one comment.  It was from the instructor.
This comment was specific and again encouraging. I would have liked more suggestions from her about how to improve it, though. 

I did read several of the other submissions.  I found it interesting that we each described the details of the flame in similar words.  

Going into lesson 4 - “Try Out Different Points of View”, I have realistically concluded that I have to approach the rest of the course differently.  Instead of expecting and looking forward to “plenty” of feedback,  I have decided to concentrate more on what I am learning from each of the lessons.   
Because after all,this is what I wrote in assignment number 1,  What I expect from this class is to learn new means and methods which will enhance my writing experience.”  


  1. It does sound like it is a good class in the advice given and the assignments so far. It is good that the instructor comments. I think it would be neat if they broke up the 300 particpants into groups of 10-15 where these 10-15 would be encouraged to read the other people's in their group assignments and then comment on them. Might build up a community of fellow writers wanting to improve on their skills. It is good that you are sticking with it though!

    I liked what you wrote about the candle.


    1. You know, Betty, I had exactly the same thought about splitting up the class into smaller groups. But I have a feeling that would take more effort than the instructor would be willing to make. I am getting something out of the class. That’s the main objective.

  2. Betty has a good idea. Too bad the instructor didn't think of it. I understand why you'd want feedback, and I wonder at why someone would have a class of 300 when reading written work takes so much time. I'm glad you're getting something out of it.

    1. I am going to suggest the idea that the class be split up into groups. I think the reason that might not happen is because it would require the creation of multiple forums, which would also require more effort than the instructor is willing to make. Apparently the instructor has several assistants who are helping her read the assignments.

  3. Good for you. I would have walked into the lecture hall, observed 299 other students and dropped the class. Been there, done that, and gotta C. Smaller classes are so much better . . . but like I said, good for you, and good luck!

    1. Yeah, I have to remain positive about it and take away what I can from the class.