By Teresa Rudd, Parent Contributor
“To a weird, fantisy girl. I hope someday you write a neat, weird book.” That’s a quote from a friend who wrote in my eighth grade yearbook. (I still have that very yearbook from 1978!) For some reason, this quote is what inspired me to start on my journey of writing. I don’t remember what prompted this fellow student to write that, but I suspect that it had a lot to do with my being weird (of course) and creative.
Truthfully, I’m a liberal arts fiend. One could say I’m a jack of all trades, master of none when it comes to the arts (except maybe singing. I excel at that. But that’s another topic.) It tickles my funny bone when people call me a writer since it isn’t my career, and I never considered the possibility of pursuing it as a career. In fact, writing is something that never came easily or naturally for me.
When I look back at my high school years, I remember actually disliking my English classes, doing creative writing on my own after school. Regrettably, there were no creative writing courses in high school that could count for high school English credit. At least none that I knew of like The One Year Adventure Novel or other courses out there now. How I would have thrived on curricula like these back then!
Somehow, someone had the bright idea of shoving me into a dual enrollment college English course during my final year of high school. It was either my mother or the guidance counselor at school. One of them thought I was smart enough to take the course and signed me up without my consent. Bottom line, I hated college English. I hated it so much that, when sent off to an official state college, I chose to major in Art for a BA, hoping to avoid writing papers. I remember meeting English majors there and looking at them like they were out of their minds. Why would anybody choose English as a major? All those papers! I soon discovered, much to my chagrin, that even Art majors have to write papers.
After graduating from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree, I had to live in the real world for a while, puttering around doing odd jobs, enjoying family, getting married and having kids, and during the interim, did the occasional art project, experimented learning different musical instruments, or started up creative writing again. I never pursued art as a career. I guess all the pressure of doing art according to what college professors wanted diffused any passion I might have had. What fun is art if it becomes a job anyway? When I returned to writing stories, I thought of it more as a hobby than anything since I knew I lacked the discipline and the know how. Like any artist, I felt the need to express myself creatively one way or the other. When I didn’t have a pencil, paintbrush, or musical instrument in hand, I could always pick up a pen and start writing whatever fun story scene played in my head.
Most stories I started, I never finished (surprise, surprise). Others I actually did finish, but they were never good enough to publish, and, not having any official guidance or direction of how to improve them, I shoved them away never to be looked at again. I guess you could say that I wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of creative writing for forty years before encountering for the first time the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum.
My daughter, Mary, always passionate about storybooks, had expressed an interest in creative writing, showing promise while in middle school. A mutual friend of ours knew that Mary had this passion and, after having read some of Mary’s works, actually bought the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum for her. I watched the lessons along with her and began to apply them to a novel that I already had been thinking about for some time.
That was five years ago. I’ve managed to actually finish the novel and am still working on the fourth draft!
Granted, I haven’t been able to keep to twelve chapters as the curriculum suggests, but so much other material in the curriculum taught by Mr. S has been truly helpful in enriching my writing experience. It has given me great joy, teaching me that it is possible to finish something I’ve started, and teaching me ways to improve on that work. The whole writing community surrounding the One Year Adventure Novel has challenged and stretched me beyond my limits. And just hearing Mr. S say, “just keep writing,” gives me the kick in the pants I need to not give up like I tend to do about a lot of things.
Whether or not my latest book will be published remains to be seen (that’s a whole other hurdle and topic). However, I can at least say that this “weird, fantasy girl” finally got around to writing a neat, weird book.
Do you have writing goals you aren’t meeting because you don’t know what to do next to improve your technique? As Teresa’s story illustrates, The One Year Adventure Novel may be designed for high school students, but it offers great fiction training for writers beyond their teen years, too. Read the stories of other adult writers Jeff, Angie, and Michelle.
Teresa Rudd holds a BA degree with a dual major in Spanish as a Foreign Language and Art from the State University College at Oswego, NY. She has authored three unpublished books while homeschooling her two now adult children. She resides in beautiful Rhode Island with her husband, Mark, and children, where she spends her time helping with church worship and dog sitting to scrounge up enough money to attend writers’ conferences.