Friday, April 29, 2011

Advice from the Past

I found a notebook from my college days at the University of Houston. It's from a creative writing class I took in the fall of 1971 from Dr. Karchmer, my favorite professor. The notebook is filled with lots of basic -- but still good -- advice, as well as short story ideas and first drafts.

Here are some of my notes from my first class 40 years ago:
  • Learn to PROOFREAD! Make it neat -- 1" margins; make it look professional.
  • Write as many short stories as you can. Read as many short stories as you can. Develop your own insights. Read for your own pleasure.
  • Cultivate regular writing habits. Set aside 1-2 hours every day for writing, a time when you are relatively composed. (I laughed at this one -- composed? A play on words?)
  • Write whether you are inspired or not. You must force yourself to write; must discipline yourself. Work every day.
  • Get the first draft down before starting over. Believe in what you're writing. Don't let the critical part of your mind over-rule the creative part.
  • "Emotion remembered in tranquility"
  • Keep a notebook and work in it every day. Keep a journal of your observations and impressions. Character analysis, feelings, emotions, ideas for stories. Can pour out feelings of hostility, bitterness, love, happiness, etc. in journal to clear your system. Vast depository of your thoughts. A storehouse of knowledge for future use. (I had put a big star by this one in my notebook...and this notebook proves that I took his advice. I've been doing this for the past 40 years.)
  • Write letters. Use lots of description in them. (Obviously, this was before email and text messages, but I still love to write letters and send cards.)
  • "Memory is the one paradise from which the writer cannot be driven."
  • "Time destroys; memory preserves." (I'm not sure if what I have in quotation marks are quotes from Dr. Karchmer or from someone else.)
I'll share some more of my notes later. Right now I have to go write.

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