Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Writing Crap and Loving It

Started classes last night at British Council. This group is larger than my last, and quite wonderful in its diversity - a broad sweep of ages (early 20's to late '60's), races, nationalities (Malaysian, Indonesian, British) and professions (including engineers, a hip-hop musician, a housewife). Despite this, they seemed to gell very quickly and didn't get too freaked out at the apparently loony things I got them to do ("Don't think! Throw grammar punctuation spelling out the window!")

I always find it fascinating just how much new writers block themselves by telling themselves "This isn't very good...", "I'm not very good at ...", "I can't write as well as the rest of you".

Just have fun guys. Write crap! Write the worst crap in Malaysia - the world even. Just write tons of it. Send that in-your-head-critic over to KLCC for some shopping, and only invite him back at the end of the course to help you polish your work.

The irony is, of course, that once a writer claims that freedom, some pretty exciting stuff turns up on the page. And there were surprises even in the first session.

Many thanks to my friends at British Council for advertising and organising the course and taking the admin burden off my shoulders. And I love the off-the-library classroom with its whizzy computerised white board.

Life is also much much easier now that I have someone to help me out on a flexible, part-time basis. Doris is gradually taking over all the routine tasks (photocopying, typing lists, keeping records) which frees me up no end. Best of all she is genuinely interested in what I do and is already making very good suggestions for how I can work more efficiently. (I need that as I'm not the most organised, as you will have gathered!)

Yep. Things are going well.

17 comments:

Lydia Teh said...

Have fun, Sharon. You're a wonderful teacher, I'm sure your students will like you.

bibliobibuli said...

am a mad teacher ... luckily these guys haven't yet realised the depths of my insanity (*fiendish laughter*)

Krishna said...

I had a taste of your insanity this morning, Mrs. Burns hahahahaha.....was smiling all the way driving in to work:-)

-The "other" Kumar

bibliobibuli said...

for the sake of the rest of the world: my old computer crashed this morning and i phoned up my computer guy kumar with an urgent plea to come over and save me right away (did my voice have a slightly hysterical edge?) ... encouraged by how glad this guy seemed to hear from me, i burbled on and on and on about what was on my hard disk and how the world would come to an end if i couldn't access it and how i needed to upgrade my norton, ... only to realise after several minutes i was talking to a different kumar altogether ... our one and only reading group guy

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon, I have not yet written my thoughts on last night's event but I am here to agree with Lydia that you are a very good teacher. and I suspect we not only learnt about writing but also about reading out our pieces of work last night. See you next week. In anticipation, Zarina.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks, zarina. you are a very sporting lot and i'm so loooking forward to reading your writing! i promise you that next week everything will begin to make a bit more sense ...

lil ms d said...

you're a great teacher and editor sharon! you and your class will have fun!

Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, now that you've got Doris to help you, how about giving us that list of particulars for the BC group, not to mention the compilation of our work ;)

bibliobibuli said...

don't worry lydia
i've put it together already - just that at the mo i have computer freeze-up problems
doris will proofread and bind it
and it should be done by next week

Greenbottle said...

...."Don't think! Throw grammar punctuation spelling out the window!")... write crap...

hey that sounds like me altogather...in my blog that is..

i think you're doing one helluva good job... i hope one day we'll have a truly original malaysian writer that I really want to read...and i hope it'll come from one of your classes...and i salute the 60 yr old guy/gal? that is doing your class right now!...best of luck to all...

but but ...just an aside... one time , in a different forum... i had quite a heated discussion with one guy who read good books but hates catcher in the rye(which is a damned good book in my err..book)...i mentioned jack keroac.. and he says...that's NOT writing...that's typing.. and i think he quoted that from some writer ...

sympozium said...

That quote about Kerouac was said by Truman Capote...

Argus Lou said...

Sounds like a great class, Sharon; wish I were there. I've never met you but heard about you. So glad to know you're nice and a bit nutty. ;-)

As for folk who put down other people's favourites with throwaway lines and recycled, unoriginal quotes, I have only this to say: Ppffftt!

I believe there's always something to take away from a book, good or not so good. If we look hard enough.

bibliobibuli said...

i enjoyed 'catcher in the rye' when i read it over 30 years ago! and i've arrived recently at kerouac - not too sure in fact what to make of him though i love the freedom he carved for himself with 'howl'

keroac always went with first drafts believing that writing was improvisation like jazz solos

greenbottle - thanks for kind words. i hope most of all that my courses help folks to discover part of themself they haven't really talked to before. but i hope they find themselves writing for publication too. i've had some very nice pieces written and i just hope the writers continue to have faith in themselves and keep on.

bibliobibuli said...

argus lou - glad i had the chance to find your blog. you don't need my course. you need to get your work published.

nutty? yes. and the nice thing about getting older is you don't have to be sensible anymore (partic. if like me you don't have kids).

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Puan Sharon. *blush* You are indeed encouraging. I share the same 'literary' agent as Xeus, but, unlike her, I'm all over the place.

Yes, I don't have anak either -- so I can be as nutty as my other half's inedible breakfast muesli. I'm also enjoying getting older; was such a blur calamari in my 20s, and hormones were all a-raging in my early 30s. Heh.

Anonymous said...

"and i've arrived recently at kerouac - not too sure in fact what to make of him though i love the freedom he carved for himself with 'howl'"

Howl was written by Allen Ginsberg, not Kerouac.

bibliobibuli said...

oops yes. thanks for the correction. actually was thinking of 'san francisco blues' which leaves me feeling more puzzled than excited