10 Years Later

Mrs. Campbell's class- Trickster tales 004.JPG

My 10th year of leading creative nonfiction classes for adults starts this Monday. I taught my first class out of sheer desperation. I'd been laid off from my desk job at Style and couldn’t imagine anything else I was possibly qualified to do. Of course I knew wasn’t qualified to teach adults either but some crazy little voice inside said to do it anyway.

I didn’t have much to lose, after all. I was in the midst of getting sued by two credit card companies, didn’t have health insurance, had a toddler, had some nasty emotional entanglement and my marriage was on the brink of explosion or collapse.

Ten years later and I feel not just like a different person but that I inhabit a different universe. Am I saying that writing almost every day for these last 10 years has saved me from divorce, bankruptcy and heartbreak? No. And yes.

Writing every day these 10 years has helped me find my True North. It’s helped me see myself— my strengths, weaknesses, my Achilles’ heels, my essential goodness, more clearly. It’s helped my find meaning in chaos and to see other people more clearly, to see our humanity, to allow forgiveness. Writing has helped me make sense of my past and shape my future.

Nowadays in my classes, we focus more on heart than craft, more on truth than structure, more on process than publication. I am more interested in willingness to write the hard stuff than figuring out what to do with it later. Writing has moved into the realm of basic necessity, more like taking a shower to wash off the mud and shit and grime than trying to craft great art. Although sometimes, by luck and accident and the sheer beauty of my students, that happens anyway.

Valley HaggardComment