November 08, 2005
A lesson in creativity

I began my third course today in Creative Writing. I have found an online course structure that has been the best so far in pushing me and teaching me in a way that has motivated me beyond anything I've ever tried before.

These courses are all offered through Ed2Go - an online school with reasonably priced 6-week syllabuses. I have used them before to learn HTML, Web Page Design, Photoshop and Digital Photography, but had shied away until now on the creative writing course load.

Since September, I've taken Write Your Life Story and am midway through Writeriffic: Creative Training for Writers.

Today, I began The Craft of Magazine Writing.

Two lessons are released each week, on Wednesday and Friday (although you can usually access them Tuesday and Thursday). There is usually a short quiz, supplementary reading and an assignment. Some assignments are quite quick and others, like this week's one very difficult.

The last assignment was to pick something out of a newspaper and write 400-500 word story based on a fictional account of the article. I couldn't for the life of me find anything in the newspaper that struck me but as I fell asleep last night, an idea came.

The result? Something I was actually quite happy with.

The picture in the paper of an elderly lady was simply titled ‘Violet May celebrated her centennial birthday amidst several friends and relatives’. There was no story. No words to honour the life that she had led.

As she sat there looking at the picture on the table, she thought to herself ‘Do they know all I’ve seen? Have I done a good enough job reminding them of road I’ve walked?’

She was born at the turn of the 20th century in a small native village called Harbledown. Violet was the child of a Da’naxda’xw woman and an Irishman who’d come to the savage world to seek a new life. In those early days, she’d played on the beach while her mother caught oolichans close by. Her brother had a cougar for a pet and they had loved that big cat they’d called ‘Polly’.

She’d been born before the Wright brothers even attempted their first flight, and when Canada was a dominion, rather than a country. She had listened to her elder’s stories in the long house, hearing the history that was her own. When she was 10, the missionaries had decided the longhouses were to be banned. No more gatherings. To think she had lived long enough to see the traditions being returned to them warmed her heart. Her great-grandchildren were being taught of the old ways.

Violet thought back on her life. She’d buried three husbands. Good, decent men. Her first love left her on the fields of Europe in World War I. She had been widowed young, with 2 small children. Her second husband was, a kind gentle soul raising her two babes, and two more before being tragically killed in a logging accident. The loggers today had it easy, she mused. They had no idea what it was like in those days. More young boys lost that way than any other, she thought sadly. By the time, World War II had ended, she’d been widowed twice and was a grandmother for the first time. That was when she met Bob. Her third and final love. She missed him so. To think they’d been married for 25 years and he’d already been gone for 30.

As she thought of the party her family had held, her heart smiled to think that at least 70 people there were her direct descendants. Her own flesh and blood. She had lived to see five generations and she felt truly blessed indeed.

It's a composite of a bunch of stories in one, so not one real person but I think I'd like to expand a bit. I can think of some interesting ways to go there.

But tonight I'm unplugging. No more NaNoWriMo (21,300!), no more anything. Just going to try to relax and read my book and try and get my feet back on the ground.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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