One by one they enter the room. Colour moving into a pale white space. White walls, white tables, whiteboard at the front. They write their first names on labels and smooth them onto their chests. They each recite the obligatory introductory verse ‘Hi, my name is…’ Those already in the room respond with the chorus ‘Hi…’ This isn’t AA, it’s a night class for writers.
The first thing I learn is that the confession ‘I am not a writer’ is one that people offer up just as quickly in real life as I did online when I started this blog. The teacher says all the right things to ease first-time anxiety and his main message is thus: Anyone can be taught to write well.
Over the years I’ve done my fair share of night classes. I can only put it down to the fact I like learning and trying new things. Each time I’ve come away having discovered something new, either about the subject, or myself. Usually, it not something that’s been covered in the course outline.
Chinese cooking – Who knew you have to cure a new wok? Also, that deep-fried puff pastry is the bomb.
Fencing – I’m really not that into combative sports even when it only involves the slight chance of being lightly touched by something bendy.
Ballroom dancing – Best done with a teacher called Gwenda in a studio with the word ‘wonderland’ in its name.
Mosaics – There is no limit to the number of items in one garden that can be covered in broken pieces of tile. And, fresh grout makes everything look better.
Hip hop dancing – I am not a dancer.
Languages (German, Spanish and Japanese) – Never trust a teacher who starts the first lesson by saying ‘This is one of the easiest languages to learn’. It’s not.
With this in mind, I certainly don’t expect to become a novelist over the course of the next six weeks. I’ll be lucky to come away with some tools and techniques to make my writing a bit better. Like all the other classes I’ve done, if nothing else I got a story out of it and, for a writer, that’s a good place to start.