“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
Recently Reno author, Jacci Turner, invited me to visit her class at the Northwest Reno Library. She received a grant from the Nevada Arts Council to teach an art class for the “aging artist” so she designed a class around the art form she knew best, novel writing. Her curriculum for the six-week class covered developing plot, characters and setting, even had students draft a blurb for the back cover.
Though a small class, the group encompassed a wide variety of professions and writing experience. Sue is an author. Jodie published poetry as Jo Jo Grams. As a teacher, Michelle had written informational pamphlets. Randall published short stories in college and Lori was new to writing fiction.
What surprised you about the class?
Sue Dugan: it was helpful in keeping me focused on the elements I need to include in my editing. It showed me that taking classes and tightening my technique is never ending—I learn something new about our craft every day.
Jodie Ruana: First that it was free, but what really impressed me was how organized Jacci had the class. She had everything outline and clearly knew what she wanted to discuss. I always learn something new whenever I take a class and this was no exception, especially when it came to writing scenes.
Michelle Gach: The thing that surprised me was that there is actually is a formal way to write a story. I thought it would be jus sitting down and write about something. I liked learning about the writing process. The teaching directed my thinking. Maybe as I get better at this my writing will be more concise, have more substance and “meatier”
Lori Thomas: I took the class on a whim. I’m not a budding novelist. I knew that Jacci would be good. I was surprised at the creativity of other people.
Randall Figurski: First I was surprised to find I am the only male in the class. Then I have been surprised by the imaginative stories others in our group were developing and sharing. Stories of stolen golden railroad spikes, taking cats, Irish sprites, time travel and reincarnation were shared across the table. I really want to read these stories when they are published. I hope we stay in touch after this class ends.
Sue Dugan: Finish the second draft of the 2nd book in the series. Send out the book I’m almost finished editing.
Jodie Ruana: To put down on paper the idea I now have in my head and to put to practice the tools I learned in this class.
Michelle Gach: I would like to perhaps finish the story. But I’ve discovered that I think I’m more of an expository writer. Maybe that’s because I was a teacher and I want to teach through my writing. A person can do that through a story such as the one I’m writing. But it is easier to discover and write about a topic.
Lori Thomas: Next step will be a first attempt at fiction. I’ll continue to explore fiction and see where it goes.
Randall Figurski: I need to find a writing critique group, preferable one that meets face-to-face. But I will meet via Zoom, if necessary. I discovered that my story idea took better shape with feedback from my classmates. I also discovered that just talking about my story with others helped me to more clearly visualize it. Also, I am once again motivated to continue writing after two years of pandemic malaise.
It was a pleasure spending the afternoon with Jacci and her students. Though I can’t predict what the future writing path will hold for the group, I know they will enjoy the journey.