Thoughtful Thursday: Creative Writing

I’m standing in for Justin today because he’s got a major creative writing assignment due soon, and I guess his instructor doesn’t think that Thoughtful Thursday counts for that.
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Justin has to write a vignette about a mundane event in his life (he chose visiting Steak ‘n Shake), but he also has to have amnesia and he’s not allowed to use the word “amnesia” in the story.

Justin’s taking this class because of his interest in writing fiction. I’m wondering how many of our readers are also interested in writing fiction? Have you taken a creative writing course? Have you written any fan fiction? Are you working on a story? Have you actually submitted anything for publication, or had your work published somewhere? Tell us about it!

As usual, one commenter will win a book from our teetering stacks.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. I think Justin should write Thoughtful Thursday as if he has amnesia. ;)

    “I’m sitting in front of this glowy box, and it shows a blue box with a picture of a dragon, and I get the distinct sense that a bunch of people are waiting for me to say something clever…”

  2. I took a creative writing course in high school, but didn’t write too much for several years after graduation. Then I started writing fan fiction. Discovering the internet and the Star Wars prequels at about the same time really propelled me into the fanfic scene and I spent a lot of time over at, completely immersed in the fanfic forums. When I got burnout there, I moved on to other fandoms, and have even tried to switch to purely original stories. I find that more difficult. To date, I have had one short story published by a small religious press, in a Christmas anthology.

  3. I signed-up for a creative writing course in high school but somehow I was put a shop class instead, which was made worse by the fact that I already in another shop class. :(
    Then years later I took an At-home creative writing course (and this is long ago enough that I bought a 2nd-hand Brother Word Processor to use). I completed the course and submitted one story to one magazine, got rejected. So I never tried again..
    I guess I’m kinda lazy.

  4. SandyG265 /

    I took creative writting in high school but haven’t done any writting since.

  5. While I was in college, I actually won the second prize in a national literary contest in Belgium (where I grew up), and I still have a handful of short stories languishing somewhere. I quickly realized that non-fiction is really where my interest lies, so I haven’t worked on writing fiction in, well, a long time.

  6. I took a year long creative writing course at a boarding school in my late teens (this was in Sweden, I don’t know if similar schools for adults exist elsewhere). I few months before I had finished my first (and only) novel and I wanted to learn the craft which I sort of did. Writing better however meant that I started writing slower and university studies later killed most of my creative writing. I do write now and again and hope to finish my second novel this year. I also met my girlfriend and the boarding school which is a big bonus :)

  7. That’s interesting that DH says that university killed his creative writing.

    I have had scientific journal articles published. I’ve never taken a creative writing course, and I don’t think I’m very good at creative writing unless I’m given strict “rules.” Which, I guess, isn’t very creative.

    I used to enter The Washington Post’s Style Invitational frequently and some of my entries have placed. I have lots of their magnets, but I really treasure my “Loser” T-shirt. Here are a couple of limericks of mine that have placed:

    For this one, I had to write a limerick using the word “calculus”:

    To understand tangents I strived.
    Integration I somehow contrived
    Just to grasp so I’d pass
    That darn calculus class.
    Then I knew that at last I derived.

    And for this one, we had to write a limerick which “comically failed to rhyme.”

    In her kitchen, where we fell in love,
    I decided to make the first move.
    So I then made a pass
    While admiring her as
    She was leaning there over her stove.

    I haven’t entered the contest since I started writing for FanLit. Perhaps I’ll go see what they’re up to. It’s probably about time for the annual limerick contest…

  8. I’ve had a couple of short stories published, long ago, and I’ve written a couple of novels. They’re sitting comfortably on my hard drive, untouched.

  9. Kat, I love the limericks.

    I’ve been scribbling since I was a kid, ever since I realized that stories were written by people, and that therefore I could, theoretically, write one. (My skill was more debatable!) I took two creative writing classes, but wasn’t wowed (one seemed to focus a lot on gloomy “issue of the week” stories and the other on the instructor bragging on his own writing a la Gilderoy Lockhart). And I wrote a ton of fanfiction for a while. I have *mumblemumble* files of it on my older computer. I kind of miss doing it — I couldn’t ever publish it for money, of course, but I got into good habits at the time, writing almost every day. Oh, and I’ve done Nanowrimo a few times, “won” once.

  10. great limericks Kat!

    I’ve had some essays and short stories published in literary journals and anthologies, most recently Alaska Quarterly Review, with a few coming out in the spring and fall. Some might currently be online. I’m actually working on my last essay to complete a book which I’ll be trying to shop (thus the review may dip a bit at that time) this summer

    The first thing I remember writing was in second grade when our class wrote a bound “book” called George Man from the Dead (we were so ahead of the zombie curve). That might qualify as “fan fiction” as I used the “force field” idea from Star Trek. One of my friends, btw, remains bitter to this day that I was the only one who got to write two chapters of George.

    I did write a Star Trek script in fifth grade (plot is lost), a parody of Superman (“Stuporman”–sophisticated, huh?) in sixth grade, and several science fiction stories in high school that were embarrassingly derivative (still have a rejection letter from Twilight Zone magazine).

  11. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and rarely have I been good at it. I remember writing stories in the 1rst grade about animals having wars. Pigs armed with poo bombs and cows machine gunning milk. My brother would draw the illustrations. It’s the most awesome thing I’ve written to this day. In the second grade I won a state poetry contest. I won a whopping $200, but to a 2nd grader I might as well have one the Nobel Prize.

    I continued to write mostly poetry in high school. I was a fairly constant presence in the school papers and art books, but that’s not exactly a significant feat when your school has only 1000 people in it.

    One of my proudest moments was convincing these guys to let me review for this site.

  12. I’ve read plenty of Justin’s work. He’s imaginative and interesting and funny. That’s most of the battle won.

    I am recalling that I actually have written some fanfic. In my high school English class we had to write a first person POV story set in one of the books we’d read that year. The character was supposed to be standing in front of the pearly gates and talking him/herself into heaven. I chose obsequious Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. My teacher loved it and gave me a 99 (because she said she NEVER gave 100 because nothing could be perfect). She was my favorite teacher and I was so proud of that and I still think it’s one of the best things I ever wrote. I think I still have it somewhere.

    Anyway, so I have written Jane Austen fanfic!

    And that was an AP English class and I scored high enough of the AP test that I didn’t have to take Freshman English in college which means I skipped all the creative writing assignments in college. When I look back on that, I wonder if that was such a good thing. It seemed like it at the time…

  13. “Stuporman–” I want to read this! and Kat, couldn’t you add a limerick column to this site?

  14. Kieran /

    I took a creative writing class about 2 years ago, but I didn’t find it all that useful as it was more hearing what everyone else was writing (and various other anecdotes that had nothing to do with anything) rather than actually providing techniques and criticism of my own work. I never found out if I passed it or not (I assume not) but it did motivate me to write my first finished novel. Which just got rejected from its first publisher 2 weeks ago – score!

  15. Kieran, I think I would hate a class like that, which is part of why I’ve never taken a course. If I was going to spend the money and time, I’d be more selfish about it. Maybe a personal tutor or coach would be better. But I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences in classes. Keep trying, Kieran!

    Marion, I’d love to have a limerick column! Or maybe we can write occasional reviews in limerick form. Or Haiku. Last year I wrote a song for my review of Swordbird. In all of the cases I’ve mentioned of my own creative writing, there was a structure I was bound by. If I don’t have a structure, though, I’m lost.

  16. I can see the reviews now:
    There once was this author from Nantucket . . .

  17. I’ve actually taken two creative writing courses. They were fun, but I wouldn’t say I learned a lot. Just my personal experience, but beyond the mechanical end of things, I think I learned more from simply emulating my favourite authors. Anyway, lol…

    Kieran, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

  18. Kieran /

    I’m not sure I even learned the mechanical end of things in mine!

    Afraid I’m still a UK inhabitant so I’ll have to pass on the stacks, thanks.

  19. Tanmoy /

    think Justin should write Thoughtful Thursday as if he has amnesia. ;)

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