I’m participating in the University of Iowa MOOC, How Writer’s Write Fiction. MOOC, is an acronym for “massive open online course.” Many, such as this one, are free. Flannery O’Connor (whose picture will be on a stamp) studied writing at the University of Iowa’s Writing Workshop and I’m honoured to be in such great company. My hope is that the course will help me develop the complexity of characters and situations in my work-in-progress-but-nearing-completion book, Loved As If.
I went into the course with a great deal of fear and dread. How can I trust my work, which proceeds from a solid Christian worldview, to those who have little or no grounding in Christianity? How do I trust that what I write will even speak to those whose initial points of reference are so antithetical to mine? For some time, anxiety has buzzed just below the surface: What is God expecting of me? How can I possibly deliver? Won’t this be like university where I had to find ways to write about faith without mentioning any actual experience of faith?
I find God is only expecting me to do my best. Thus far, the instructors, mentors, and other writers perceive my work not as religious but as writing. Some may get it, others not. But they respond to well-written characters and situations. Two weeks in and I’ve already discovered that I can express a character’s anxiety or joy or anger without using adverbs (anxiously) or telegraphing action (she felt joy rise within her and said…) or being the narrative voice that explains what the characters are doing (“I hate you!,” she screamed in anger.) What matters is that I can trust God even when He sends me into hostile territory.
On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.
Image source: http://aleteia.org/2015/05/28/flannery-oconnor-to-be-honored-with-us-postage-stamp/