VIOLA - I’m a decent storyteller—especially when I’m leading fitness classes and have everyone held captive in a plank. I’ve been told that hearing a story helps students pass the time when their arms and legs are starting to quiver like violin strings.
The challenge lies in writing down the stories I like to tell the people in my classes. Written words will last for forever, my storytelling ends with me.
I try to write better every week, but I know it can help to get guidance. I decided to sign up for a weekend writing workshop.
I found the workshop I wanted to attend and called the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild to register. The workshop leaders sent me an electronic form to fill out.
The form said, “First step, click here” and I did. A box that opened up stated: “You must pick your gender first.”
Hmm, I thought, very progressive, interesting. Those writers are such soulful, creative types. I sure hope they give me a few choices to pick from. I clicked on the next arrow.
The choices were not the ones I was anticipating: ‘Fiction,’ ‘Nonfiction,’ ‘Poetry,’ and a ‘Combination of Fiction and Nonfiction.’
Oh, they meant genre!
The workshop isn’t until February, and I felt I needed help now. I was getting the itch to teach fewer fitness classes and write more. I turned to the Driftless Writing Center’s website where I discovered a manuscript critique workshop and enrolled.
The class is led by two teachers, each one a different gender but with the same genre preference: no poetry.
Last night, I came home from class exhausted–yet all keyed up from learning. Dane was at my house caring for my critters. I sat down and started telling him about the workshop as if I were a staple gun spitting out staples.
I explained to Dane that the female leader was teaching us about point of view, but that I couldn’t concentrate because I was distracted by her hands.
The skin on her hands is fair with no wrinkles, her fingers slender and long. They reminded me of a daddy longlegs walking through a rain puddle with precision.
The female leader wore no rings nor bracelets. As she eloquently waxed on about omniscient point of view, her fingertips grazed each other ever so slightly. In my head I began reciting: Here is thechurch, here is the steeple, while my eyes stayed transfixed on her fingers. I wanted her hands to turn over and the door to open so I could see all the people.
I confessed to Dane, “Nothing. Nothing was going on in my head except for those hands and the steeple.”
Then, I started telling Dane about the other instructor as if I were a kid who had devoured six bowls of Super Sugar Crisp cereal. It was like the other leader was throwing candy out at a parade and I was trying to catch it: “Too many characters ruin a good story. Stop boring the reader. Tell me something once, not twice, and for God’s sake ... commas, people. Know how to use them.”
When he laughed, the table jiggled as if a Boeing 747 were buzzing the classroom. When he shared an opinion, his hands raced back and forth, then rested in his lap while I scrambled to write down everything he said.
Dane looked at me sideways, and my hands shot up as quickly as pistols at a showdown, and I started waving them around my head. “Nope. Nothing. Nothing stuck in my head except my infatuation with his booming laugh and her church fingers.”
Dog-tired, I finally crawled into bed, but I didn’t feel the least bit defeated. This isn’t my first Driftless Writing Center workshop—I know I’ll learn a lot, once I tame the distractions and channel my enthusiasm. When the newness of this class wears off, I’m sure I’ll figure out how to ignore those elegant fingers and the infectious laugh.I could hardly sleep as the stories I wanted to write started battling each other to get out. In the morning, I’ll try writing them down from my singular point of view.