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Michelle's Musings

Back to School

I'm so excited to be back in school! I just enrolled in a spring semester creative writing course through an extension program of a local community college. When I first learned of this offering, the class had already filled. However, I reached out to the instructor and asked to be wait-listed in case of a cancellation. Turns out, additional slots were added only a few days prior to the February 1 start date. After navigating a most difficult online registration process (perhaps due to website issues), I registered as a new student, got my student ID, and signed up for the class with one day to spare.


The course consists of a weekly lecture and revision workshop conducted entirely online and at no cost. (The instructor was quick to point out that a class of this scope and nature offered by a writers' organization would more than likely entail a fee.) The agenda is geared to the more "mature" writer who may or may not have much formal training, with no credit or certificate offered. I suspect, however, the bulk of enrollees are experienced writers.


The course covers several genres and requires a commitment of five hours per week. By design, the submission process is akin to that of the "real world." To have your work evaluated, you must submit at least three days in advance with proper formatting, but not all submissions are accepted.


Thus far, I've attended two sessions, and I'm impressed that the instructor (an award-winning poet) is on top of his game. The first class was more of an introduction, but the second session consisted of a lesson and a critique session wherein authors read their work aloud, after which other students offered feedback. At the conclusion, writers whose submissions were discussed commented on the feedback. I find that having the author read their work to an audience of more than 40 is useful for the following reasons: The writer has a good sense of where they wish to place intonations for emphasis and flow; they become more comfortable reading their work to an audience; and, more critically, reading one's work aloud is a tried-and-true method for finding problem areas not otherwise noticed. I plan to read my work aloud prior to submission.


I'm thrilled to stumble upon a community of like-minded writers eager to provide and receive constructive criticism for their works in progress. The instructor plans to focus on creative non-fiction for the next few sessions, and I intend to submit a memoir excerpt. I anticipate this new resource will help move my writing forward. And as an added bonus, I now qualify for student discounts—a winning situation all around!

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