“Once the story exists, then I start to listen…” Day One of Creative Writing Institute

By Kate Broderick, Student Services Coordinator for the School of Arts and Communication and graduate student of Global Strategic Communication

I gripped the door handle with a slightly sweaty palm, my body frozen with indecision. The musician of my heart drummed away at an unsteady beat. I paused, inhaled slowly, then thrust the door open. Crossing the threshold, I entered my very first class at Florida Tech’s Creative Writing Institute, taking Philip F. Deaver’s “Writing Short Stories” course.

Why the indecision? you ask. I cannot help but find the entire process intimidating—Phillip Deaver’s resume (which includes winning recognition such as Flannery O’Conner Award for Short Fiction and the O. Henry Award) had me quaking in my flip flops. To me, writing is pouring your soul onto paper. It is a deeply intimate process, and profoundly personal. You are opening yourself up to be weighed, measured, and judged, and I was about to do it in front of the real deal.

It took about forty-eight seconds for those fears to dissipate, frittering away to wherever conquered nightmares skulk off to. My apprehension was blown away entirely by the peaceful, friendly environment. I hesitate to define the experience as a lecture—it wasn’t really. It was a conversation, apparently between old friends that had recently rediscovered one another. For the first time, I was in an environment where I feel people really understood what it means to be a writer. Not the accolades, or the desire to be published, but the actual creative process, and the pull and captivation of the words themselves.

Mr. Deaver described the process of writing akin to a shuttle launch. He lamented that we often find it difficult to finish a piece (I succumb to this, having started and stalled on several attempts at penning a novel). The shuttle must fight and push against resistance before breaking through to outer space. The struggle against the very real forces trying to keep the shuttle earthbound shakes the craft to such extent that it threatens to break apart. Just when you think the entire shuttle is about to shatter, it reaches space. Something about Mr. Deaver’s metaphor struck a chord with me. Living on the Space Coast, it is not unusual to see a lone light blazing across the darkened night sky. Isn’t that the point, really? To one day see our writing—all of our hopes and wishes—conquer the obstacles threatening to hold us back.

Today, when I go to my Creative Writing Institute class, it will not be with hesitation, indecision, or anxiety. I want to see how high my shuttle can reach.


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