My online writing class wraps up today. The eight weeks of the class seemed to fly by. Although it was a bit of a challenge keeping up with the class work (especially with added complications like a long-term house guest and C's intense work load that kept the computer occupied most of our waking hours), I am sooooo glad I took it.
This is the third online writing class I have taken, and before that I took one face-to-face class and one workshop, but this was the first time that I really grasped that good writing involves much more than putting words and sentences together in a pleasing manner. That is not to put down previous classes--they have all built on each other (quite inadvertently), and I think I needed to spend a lot of time learning simply to write descriptively before I was ready to move on to other elements of craft like voice, conveying different moods or emotions through use of tense or varying sentence structure, etc.
Our teacher, Kate Hopper, provided a written lecture and representative writings on a different topic or element of craft each week. While I was familiar with some of the writings, I appreciated discovering new writers, especially those whose work has been published outside of the usual motherhood-writing type publications. I also appreciated that she offered guidance in how to read and interpret the readings. While I have been instructed in the past to "read like a writer" I never really knew what this meant.
We were also given two writing assignments each week, although some of them involved two or three writing sessions for me to get out what I needed to write, and most of them I could easily go back to again and again to mine my own thoughts for more information and details. This differs from other writing prompts (such as those in Writing Motherhood), which get you to free write, but don't necessarily encourage deeper exploration. For each writing exercise as well as for the longer "workshop" piece we were each allowed to submit, Kate offered wonderful feedback--while being both nurturing and encouraging, she gave real concrete, constructive suggestions on making the piece better.
The class was conducted in a web-board format, which I much prefer to the email format of the poetry class I took. The web board feels more personal, you have more contacts with each class member and you have more flexibility in when to post or comment. Through this format we all got to review and comment on each others' work, and it is amazing how quickly we came to "know" each other, despite never having met in person. Unfortunately, participation tapered off as the class went on, but that is not surprising considering the demands mothers face, and it has been the case in every other adult-ed-type (that is, not for credit) class I've taken. Me, I'm such a cheapskate that even if it was awful (which it soooo wasn't) I would have stuck it out just to get my money's worth.
It takes a big leap of faith to sign up for a class with a faceless teacher on the Internet (and drop a week's salary to boot), but I was not disappointed and I would recommend this class to any Mama who wants to hone her writing skills.