Our assignment was to write about, “My first … .” I chose my first post-retirement writing class.
It was three sessions long, offered by my parish but led by a third party, and well-attended. Attendance dropped from each session to the next, something like 20, 15 and, finally, 8. But, still … .
The instructor paired us up randomly, tearing playing cards in half, distributing them to us, having us find the other half of our card. I found my partner to be a young female. We were to be writing buddies for the duration of class, all 3 sessions. Support one another; help one another; bring out the best in each other.
I told my buddy that I was taking the class because I knew I wanted to write – at least journal – regularly, I was not doing it, and I thought the class would help.
About being writing buddies, we agreed we’d be in touch and determine some specifics about being writing buddies. This interested me more than it did her; she responded to none of my e-mails and failed to attend the remaining classes. I attributed this to either scaring her very badly, or her real disinterest in the class. I’ll choose the latter.
The instructor dealt with missing buddies; this wasn’t random selection, it was self-selection, and another man at my table and I became buddies. A woman late-comer sat at our table, noted that we were buddies, and wanted in. We accepted.
This worked slightly better than my first experience. My male buddy was too busy to be able to spend any time on the class. Our female partner failed to respond to my emails.
This female was brave enough to show up at the last class, even sitting with me. Before class, in hushed tones during it, on breaks, and afterward I expressed my dismay while she expressed remorse and apologies. We spoke quite a bit after class. Eventually we agreed we’d like to discover what it meant and be writing buddies, we’d be in touch to figure it out and kick it off. I have not heard from her, but that was only a little less than three years ago.
In class, I paid attention. I applied myself to the writing assignments. I did the exercises, and won a book by blurting out the answer to the instructor’s clever riddle. Finally I said I’d be interested in getting together with other students to continue writing.
Reflecting on the class, as I reflected in real time, I was not enamored of it. The instructor was not as cute and clever as he thought; many of the exercises seemed mundane and borderline pointless; nothing ever came of my interest in continuing the work; his buddy system, which intrigued me, completely failed me.
Nonetheless, I considered, and still consider, that class a huge success. Why? Because I met the goal that I told my first writing buddy I had set: I wanted to write more regularly. Beginning then, I wrote every day for several months. During those months, I took my first writing class from Minneapolis Community Education, and continued to write daily. The MCE class was the first in a series of ten MCE writing classes in a row, and eleven of a possible twelve classes in three years.
While I am not claiming I’ve written every day during that entire three year period, I am claiming that I wrote most days of that period, except for one time that I let my discipline slip. An MCE course got me back on track. Not only have I written ( virtually ) daily since that initial class almost three years ago, but a while after that a friend of mine and I were talking about how to remain active writers. “We should do a blog,” one of us said. This story is the one hundred fourth item I’ve posted since then.
I owe a hug debt of gratitude to that first post-retirement writing class.
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