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Writing pursuits

I don’t talk much about my writing on this blog. I guess it is because blogging is a form of writing, and to talk about the subject further feels redundant. But I am still plugging away at my literary interests, albeit slowly. One thing is for sure, getting my MFA was like strapping a huge ball and chain onto my literary leg. I am no longer as prolific as I once was, because everything I write (other than the blog) is now subject to criticism and endless attempts at improvement.


The good news is I have become a much, much better writer. I can look over my work and instantly know what is not working. I am familiar with my writing idiosyncrasies and I can buckle down and fix most of my reoccurring flaws. The bad news is I am never satisfied with my work and I’m convinced everything I produce now is crap. So I can’t stop revising. Takes the thrill out of writing, if you know what I mean. 

But I’ve always felt that if you are going to do something, you might as well do it to the best of your ability, so I am grateful I took the time to get an MFA to force my development. In some ways, I wish I wrote with the fluid abandonment I once had, and yet, there isn’t a day I don’t thank the writing gods that I my work wasn’t published previously. I would be darned embarrassed by it now had it been released in it’s raw, unfinished state. When I do get my books published (and now I have confidence that it is only a matter of time,  . . not to mention a matter of my actually sending something out) it will be work I’ll be proud of.


I am currently re-writing my first novel, Sisters of Fate  (titled Crossing Hearts for a while due to advice from an agent). I still adore the characters and the story. Besides which, I have three other books planned in this saga –the second in the series more than half written. I actually have five books in different stages of completion. Obviously I have some kind of author attention span disorder. But I know me, and in time, I will attend to them all.

For now, I feel most drawn to my historical fiction. The problem is, I wrote the first draft of this novel like a romance writer. Looking at it through different eyes now, I wince every time I crack the pages of the manuscript.


Rewriting is a very slow process for me. It took me a month to change the prologue from 12 melodramatic pages to 6 concise intriguing pages that do the job. I not only keep tweaking and tweaking, but I actually start to fall asleep every time I begin rewriting, as if my brain goes into a lethargic state by the second sentence. I am better with passion and creativity at the helm– but without serious revision, nothing I write will ever be presentable. So, like it or not, I have to sit my butt in that chair and work. Fighting sleep all the way.


Dance taught me that the best way to be very good at something is to teach. So, I am looking forward to trying my hand at personal growth through sharing what I know as well.


I’ve been asked to teach a few classes at Appalachian Tech (a community college) for their adult continuing education department. I begin these classes in late January, which gives me time to plan lessons and think about how I want to present the material.
Here are my class descriptions (in case you all want to move to Georgia and sign up):
    

Memoir Writing:
Instructor: Ginny Hendry
8 week session – Tuesdays 6:00-7:30

Everyone has a story to tell. A narrative account of our life experiences not only allows us to share our unique history with family and friends, but serves to clarify our understanding of the world at large. This course teaches the principals and theory of creative non-fiction while developing writing skills to support self-expression, the creative process and the writer’s individual voice.


Fiction Writing
Instructor: Ginny Hendry
8 week session – Thursdays 6:00-7:30

Stories do more than entertain. They reach out to others, showcasing life’s complexity, humor, pathos and curiosities. A good story leaves behind a resonance that changes a reader forevermore, because reading takes an audience someplace they’ve never been before, introducing new personalities, and/or an opportunity to witness a unique event unfolding.  This course will introduce the basics of fiction writing; characterization, scene, dialog, and plot, applicable to any genre. Students will tap into their creativity and craft stories of their own. 
 
This morning I had to turn in my biography. Eek. I do feel qualified to teach, yet a part of me keeps thinking, “What the hell have I ever done to justify my teaching these subjects?”  Years of experiences made me rather significant in the dance world. In the literary world, I’m just a newbie. But you have to start somewhere, right? And considering my experience as a teacher, combined with my recent academic pursuits, I believe I’m capable of structuring a good class for people interested in the craft of writing. The important thing to remember is, I’ll get better as I go. Considering I have some ambition in the field, I might as well get the ball rolling.

Here is what I came up with as a bio.

 

Ginny Hendry has a BA from Eckerd College and an MFA in fiction from Lesley University. In 2003 she won the Royal Palm Literary Award for a historical novel, Sisters of Fate.  Interested in genre writing as well as literary fiction, she’s also won several competitions sponsored by Romance Writers of America for Historical and Chick Lit fiction. Ginny has had numerous articles on the field of art and dance published in magazines and periodicals, including Dance Teacher Now, Dance Pages, and Dancer Magazine. She’s also written for the Pelican Press. She is author of Kiddance, a creative dance syllabus used world wide and the accompanying international newsletter and has lectured and toured with many of America’s leading dance education organizations.


Mark made me put the dance stuff in there – partially because he insists so much of the Kiddance endeavors were successful because of the writing, and also because he thinks I must at least gesture towards my vast teaching experience. Subject is irrelevant, he says. Good communication skills, lesson organization and being able to relay information is applicable to any seminar.


I have also been asked to speak for an hour at the Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference in March. They want a lecture on the pros and cons of getting an MFA. Now, I have plenty to say about this subject.  I have strong feelings about the value of a writing degree. I went into the program totally naive. Had I a better understanding of what an MFA involved, I might have made other choices. That is not to say I am sorry I went to Lesley. It changed me in the best of ways. But, I might have gotten even more out if it had I known what to expect. I also stumbled through the submission process, and frankly, I’m surprised I ever got accepted considering the work I sent in. Anyway, here is my seminar description. I really look forward to helping potential students gain insight and prepare them for what lies ahead should they seek higher education in the field.

 

Seminar Title:  The MFA Question

    An MFA is considered the professional degree for literary writers, yet many successful writers developed their skill and published powerful works without a traditional literary education. Each writer has their own agenda in regards to what they want to accomplish putting pen to paper. The question is, is an MFA right for you?
    This seminar will explore the pros and cons of pursuing an MFA.  We will discuss how the process impacts a writer’s life long quest to develop and refine their skills, changing both how they read and write, compared to alternate avenues of expanding literary awareness. We will then review the various types of MFA programs available today, consider what kind of writers an MFA best serves, and discuss the competitive submission process.


I changed my bio for this brochure to explain why I feel qualified to teach this particular course.

 

Ginny Hendry won the Royal Palm Literary Award for a historical novel, Sisters of Fate before attending Lesley University to earn an MFA in fiction. Interested in genre writing as well as literary fiction, she also won several competitions sponsored by Romance Writers of America for Historical and Chick Lit fiction. Ginny has had numerous articles on the field of art and dance published in magazines and periodicals, including Dance Teacher Now, Dance Pages, and Dancer Magazine. She’s written for the Pelican Press. Impacted by her MFA, she is now enthusiastically rewriting Sisters of Fate and completing her thesis book, a literary novel.
  

Anyway, as you can see, I mostly blog about my barn and animals and cooking, but my brain hasn’t turned to mush here in the country and I haven’t withdrawn from society so much that I am not still trying to accomplish something of merit .  I might surprise you all yet with something more impressive than canned goods and tomato wine. That is . . . if I can stay awake long enough to polish something and put a stamp on the envelop. 

 

 

 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

6 responses »

  1. Teaching classes?!?! Your plate is piled higher than someone at the buffet line on a cruise ship! Still waiting on that wine…

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  2. I love that you are doing this! I wish I were in Georgia – I would definitely sign up for your ficition writing class. 🙂 Best of luck

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  3. Brittany Lincoln

    Hey Ginny! It’s Brittany. I somehow came across your page here. The joy’s of Google. I’ve been meaning to email or write you for awhile now. For some reason the many times that Mark was in Florida and at Tropical Smoothie or in the downtown area he runs into my mom. I don’t mean to babble, but it’s great to hear or “read” from you. I just wanted to drop in and say hi. I miss you all very much. I came across the Matrix Dance pictures the other day (We finally got around to unpacking some photos from moving last year). I kind of just sat there staring at the photo in aw of some of the best times of my life up until my injury. Anyways, I’m sort of just babbling at the moment. I hope all is well in Georgia. -Brittany

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  4. Ginny, how wonderful to come across your blog. I know this is really a blast from the past but I have thought of you and Mark often. I was sitting writing Christmas cards and started wondering how you were and decided to google you. Joyfully there you were and in a few minutes I had caught up on your life. I definitely feel older seeing how grown up Denver is. Has time really gone by that quickly? I am still in New York, and have been working in medicine for the last 7 years. I would love to have the chance to catch up with you sometime. For now I’ll just wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

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  5. I can’t tell you how delighted I was to hear from you. Mark and I were just reminicing last week about you….. Yehaw! I’ll write you privately. gotta hear about your life after dance and your love life and all that personal stuff… Still in New York? Wow, I can’t even imagine… 

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  6. HERMES スカーフ

    アフガニスタン。ミーガンフォックスアルバニアン。ない多くのファッション作品はエルメス バーキン内部切望となったこの地球上を提供します。それらに叫び、文字古典的な人で熟考し、なさいそれら。一緒に 2 つ以上のセットを待っている 24 ヶ月エルメス バーキンは間違いなくすべてのハンドバッグの「聖杯」です。

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