Susan (Malaysia), hope you don't regret asking! Sorry that it's so long-winded! :)
I am still unsure what prompted me to join a creative writing workshop. I have NEVER written a story (not even a simple one for my kids) and nor have I ever harbored a desire to do so. I am more likely to write about someone else's story; not like a critic would, but more like a fan of literature, rhapsodizing about the writer's magnificient style, her/his storyline and so on. So it was a big surprise, even to myself, when I made the call to the college sponsoring the workshop. The person who took my call didn't ask me for my credentials on the phone - just signed me up, so really, I didn't know what to expect when I got there.
The first thing that struck me when I arrived at the venue is that I was probably the youngest person in the group (well, I had the least grey hairs anyway, or maybe I just had the better coloring job!). But perhaps that's not so surprising when you consider the course takes place in the middle of the day thereby attracting more retired people, but as we went round the table introducing ourselves, I realized these were no ordinary retired people - about half were published authors already and the other half were journalists wanting to make the leap from journalism to fiction. I felt sooooooooo out of my league in that esteemed company, that I half wanted to run home with my tail between my legs!
Our workshop leader, a published author himself, is an easy going, non-threatening kind of guy. He both looks and sounds very creative, (please don't ask me to elaborate on what I mean by "creative-looking", he might be reading this!). After introducing himself he outlined the course for us and I was delighted to see we were going to cover travel writing (my favorite) along with short stories, novel writing, the memoir, writing for children, humorous writing, character development and romance (my least favorite - perhaps I'll sit that one out)
Without much of a to-do he gave us our first assignment: to write about a chance meeting between two people. Our instructions were to write for the first 10 mins without lifting our pens from the paper. He told us to turn off the internal editor as we wrote and not to worry about grammar, spellings etc. After 20 mins we were divided into groups of three where we read our stories to each other. I was both shocked and pleased when the ladies in my group declared my story to be the best! Beginner's luck? ;)
After we returned to our tables a volunteer was called upon to read her story and we were all invited to give her feedback. I don't know when I will find the courage to read my story to the whole class or even to post it here. Maybe if you buy me a couple of Margaritas? ;)
So, what did I learn that first day? That really, anyone can write a story if prepared to allow the imagination to soar. I know that sounds easy, but it isn't because our pesky internal editor can be quite interfering. I also learned that if you want to be a better writer you have to write more and offer your work up for feedback (now that part still makes me quake). What if people find my work boring and actually tell me so? Will I ever be able to enter that class on bouncy steps with a jaunty, confident smile as I do now? We shall have to see.