Monday 11 September 2023

Well that was awful

I went on a 'Journaling Writing Masterclass' It was a birthday present to myself. Pft, it was awful. I left before it ended. 

I'd like to say, I stood up and made a Manifesto Declaration of Journaling Creativity. Then I left dramatically, slamming the door behind me.

It wasn't like that. More like the rest of the classroom (I use that word deliberately) wished I'd get the hell out, so they could carry on, in peace, looking at commas. And the tense. 

Tenses are important. Because, are you journaling using the present tense or the past tense? And don't forget to use descriptive language. This is also important, apparently.

Then not so much about Journaling. The way I understand journaling? That free-spirited, powerful, unaccountable, rush of creativity - do what moves you right there and then - this wonderful powerful surge of Here I Am, Making My Mark. This is the language for bereavement, betrayal, terror, desire, human urges that have gutteral sounds.

No! Not this type of Journaling! This course is about Literary Journaling, Grit. Don't you understand What Journaling Means? It means getting your tenses in order in preparation for publication.

Well, my journaling fails, right here and now. My tenses are all over the fecking page, splattered and splattering, splatting and splinging. 

The course, of course, was really about writing for your writing improvement. With all the implicit (and sometimes explicit) judgement that comes with that intent. Could do better. Improve it. Here are techniques the best writers use.

In the end, they make the writing dead. Publishable, probably. But dead. Slabbed out on paper like lettering on a tombstone.

I'm still working out why I went! I think the word Journaling twinkled at me. And the promo, which used the type of phrases that I believe do exist in real life, emerging from writing your own thing: life transforming, unique, original.

Well, those promises weren't delivered. The class was derivative, exclusive, unimaginative, restrictive. With a sub-current of resentment that writing exists outside of tenses (unless you are one of the chosen ones who are selected to validate the whole). It demonstrated the worst of the Lit Heritage Establishment. Ignorant of life outside.

Will they change? Probably not. I expect to see the same writing masterclass hooked onto any other literary form that the institution decides to promote. 'Biography Writing Masterclass'. 'Short Story Writing Masterclass'. 'Non-Fiction Writing Masterclass'. 

You'll get exactly the same writing exercises that I did. And if you try and say the opposite, no matter how cack-handedly, awkwardly, socially inappropriate, like me, you'll be made so unwelcome you'll think, well I may as well go home. 

Save your money, the hours, and waiting in the thunderstorm for the bus replacement service. 

Journal at home.

Ironically, after I'd left (or been booted out, depending on your point of view), I re-read the blurb, which promised an 'enthusiastic inclusive environment'. At least that made me laugh. 

And laughter - as any old reader of Grit's Day will know - is good.

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