Monday, October 26, 2009

Master's Class: Kidnapped by Pirates

When you've been through a life-changing experience, it can sometimes be hard to convey what happened, what's different now that you're back home, etc.

I happened to stumble on a metaphor in the middle of class that makes the explanation child's play.

Remember Hook, the movie starring Robin Williams? Peter Pan's son and daughter have been kidnapped by pirates, and the kids are instructed to write some things down. The daughter refuses, and Captain Hook instructs Smee to give her an F. Which he does. "F?!" she cries. "You gave me an F?!"

The real problem, of course, is not that she got an F but that she's been kidnapped by pirates. And that's what the master's class was like. For a while I focused on the mechanics I didn't have and where I failed as a writer. "F? Zero out of ten points on my revision paper?" Oh my gawd. I thought they'd send me to the remedial class before I could proceed.

Luckily, I figured out that some score on a revision test didn't matter at all. What I really had to pay attention to was that I'd been kidnapped by pirates. And I wanted to be a pirate. Er, writer. I finally began to look at what I did right, instead of what I was doing wrong. From that mindset I could then think about what I left out of my writing (not what was wrong, but missing) and commit to including that piratical, er, writerly stuff.

Suddenly, I began to sail the high seas, battling storms, tasting salt on my lips, deafened by the thunder of waves against the hull that shook through my very bones ...

I didn't give a rat's tail if I got an F on some grammar-related test thingy.

And that, ladies and gents, was what I came home with, and why I view writing, and life, in a different way than I did before the class. Wouldn't you, if you'd been kidnapped by writers?

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