The Mouse Speaks. At the… Mouse Conference

Alarming news, folks!  I am back in education.  Well, evening classes anyway.  That’s right, a creative writing class – as well as a monthly meet with a completely different posse.

(I apologise for, ‘posse.’)

Anyway, this has led me to practise an activity no good capitalist enjoys: sharing.

Yes, sharing.  I have to say, the idea of speaking aloud in front of a bunch of strangers is not something which has ever appealed to me.  I still get the residual palm-sweats from my schooldays, being roped into talking at a bunch of people who didn’t care what I had to say.  Plus I get the residual heartquakes from university presentations – where people did care what I had to say and would readily point out if I was wrong.

It’s also the nature of my personality to remember every unfortunate encounter with the demon of personal self-expression I have ever had.  Every screw-up and poorly fielded Q&A bounces back to me as vividly as the birth of my firstborn.

Okay, an exaggeration: I’m not that bad.  And a fabrication: I have yet to grace this planet with my spawn.

However, it is in my nature to hate expressing my feelings – at all – let alone my creativity.  I don’t even like spouting facts, let alone the dingy recesses of my part-of-the-job-description shadowy writer’s mind.  (I’m sure there is a minimum score one must achieve on a psychosis test to get into a writers’ guild.)

However, all that said, it’s actually turned out to be very rewarding!  After a few weeks I am finally beginning to improve my confidence – in my public speaking and my actual work.  Every time your comedy succeeds in making people laugh, or you manage to get a message across subtly without beating everyone over the head with it, it’s a damn good experience.

I’ve also had a chance to build my portfolio far more effectually than I was managing alone.  You see, these two groups both produce a lot of homework.  Class produces one piece per week; the meet produces five optional pieces per month.  Which, obviously, is pretty much another piece per week.  Working to short deadlines is really pushing me to complete work without dithering too much on the details, whilst still polishing it enough to feel comfortable reading it aloud.  It’s a balance I’ve struggled to establish under my own steam and I’m grateful for it.

Also, the groups help you to find inspiration in places which wouldn’t have occurred to you.  My teacher had one exercise, for example, where you pick a coin from your wallet and write something that happened to you during the year it is dated.  I had never thought of money like that before.  Makes me love it even more.

The groups also help you to gain perspective.  It’s amazing how varied other people’s work is and how differently they write and approach tasks.

It’s not just the writers, either: the two groups do things differently, too.  The class has a specific aim, topic, technique or medium in mind for each homework.  By contrast, the monthly meet involves several short improvisation exercises to get the noodle working.  Then the homework is an entirely different story.  They basically say, “Here are five themes to choose from.  Make them work in a piece of writing.”

Time to conclude.  I guess, what I’m saying is, join a group if you can.  No matter how ill-confident you are or how private you view your writing to be, it’s very important to go out and listen to other people.  It can boost your ego, help you improve and give you tons of new ideas.  Plus it gives you another life experience and lets you tap into other people’s – always a valuable tool.

Final note: the title of this post reminds me of the United Nations meeting between mice in The Rescuers.

Have a good week, guys!

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