Next Tuesday I start a Sketch Writing class. Let me tell you what, I’m a little intimidated. First, among my friends I’m not “the writer”, that honor belongs to someone else. I’m not even the artist or the photographer or the actor or the musician. In fact the only title I’ve managed to wrangle is “the token blonde”. I’m not even blonde, but there you go, that’s my proud designator. I suppose it’s well-earned. I may lean towards the dingy. At times when conversations among my friends drift into the more profound and my opinion is mistakenly solicited, I tend to make use of that opportunity to regale them with the virtues of ponies. Ponies are nice! You can hug ponies. You can’t exactly hug Kant. Kant probably didn’t even like carrots or apples. He probably didn’t even whinny. (But if he did, I’m sure Aristotle would have welcomed the company had they been able to meet. Oh funny philosophy references. See, ponies are more universal. People get ponies. People don’t remember Aristotle and his friend Phyllis that much outside of a hipster coffee joint. ) So you see, Non Sequitur Pony Enthusiasts who interrupt “important” or “smart” conversations get titles like “token blonde”.
Second, while I may tell you a story on occasion, it’s always at least 95% non-fiction. Life does all the hard work for me and then I give myself the remaining 5% to try to spin the boring bits into something more humorous for my audience. On the occasion that I’ve tried my hand at creative writing, I’ve managed to write down a few ideas, maybe even get it started, and find that after a full page there’s a bright shiny object to bat around on the desk.
I guess what we’re learning is that I’m too impatient to be creative.
Plus, I just really haven’t had any life experiences to draw from. I have a dog, a couple of cats, a great husband, and some friends. My life is by and large a calm place with the occasional dramatic dust-up thrown in for spice. If you want to throw me out of my element for kicks, just take me out of the state and I’ll act like every person and thing I encounter is completely alien. The “Welcome to…” sign heralds sudden forgetfulness on my part for all activities you would consider to be normal. How do I order food in this new crazy upside down world? The odd little man gave me a straw for my can of soda and a napkin! What strange customs you exotic creatures have at this Kwik-E Mart universe with it’s strange spelling. Here, let me get my camera. Someone take my photo with this strange creature!
My only adventure out of the country was that time I went to Canada. Yes, Canada. Granted, it was Quebec where the stop signs read “ARRÊT”, but to treat it like a trip to a foreign country feels a little like cheating. While there, our grand adventures included standing on top of Mount Royal and crushing their downtown with our monster claw-like hands (a camera perspective thing) and admiring their chipmunks. And while crushing whole cities is a lot like having an adventure, we still left before we could truly admire the devastation. In other words, it doesn’t quite count. To my friends in Montreal who still suffer from the nightmares of the gigantic hand extending down from their mountain, I offer my sincere apologies. The only other notable event while there was me politely explaining to a friendly shop clerk that she didn’t speak French. It was my one French phase that went beyond pleasantries,“I’m sorry, you don’t speak French.” Of course, at the time I thought I was saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French”, bygones. I was living the stereotypical obnoxious American “English only” tourist dream, I suppose. And really these weren’t exactly life-changing events (unless you lived in Montreal).
This worries me greatly when it comes to this class. What will I bring to the table? Ideas brought on by my adventures? Clearly, no. Characters? I have exactly one and it’s of you. My impersonation of you is just like my impersonation of that mutual friend of ours. Of course, that’s only because you all sound the same to me and oddly enough, you possess the same mannerisms. Another fear is about people openly critiquing my work. The thought reminds of the last few times I attempted to read my work out loud to a critical audience. I noticeably trembled. I had tried to prepare by reading my work several times out loud before hand. I tried taking deep cleansing breaths before I read and despite my best efforts and pep talks of “this doesn’t matter” I still shook so badly that a cat who had decided I had the best fur stroking hands of the bunch, a cat who had been purring happily away, literally stood up, looked at me and then hopped down. in complete disgust. The only positive that came out of those few reading experiences was that people were too worried to actually offer up criticisms. Involuntary body spasms leave people speechless. I guess I could always try that if I think I’ve written a stinker. (I say “try” like I have some sort of magic control over it. I’m so cute at times.)
But still, I’m not so intimidated that I won’t give it a try. What the heck. It will be an adventure.. Maybe my first sketch should be about ponies.