Saturday. Recovery day. Friday is my big day at uni, where I go to my creative writing class and my mind gets completely overwhelmed and – ugh. I just get wiped out. It’s wonderful class and I’m excited to be doing it, I’m learning heaps, but it’s so much at once.
It starts with getting up earlier than usual so that I can get to uni in good time. Apart from the couple of weeks when I couldn’t drive because of the shakes (going away now that I’m just about weaned off the Saphrïs, thank goodness) I drive myself out there, and I’m not really used to morning traffic – even Toowoomba style ‘rush hour’ is a little bit anxiety-making for me, since I’m just not used to stop-start driving (and especially at the moment when the depression/ anxiety is kicking in, I get worried – oh, rapid cycling bipolar, how I love it – NOT!).
Once I’m at uni I have time to have a half strength skinny latte before class. This gives me time to settle down, open up a new document on my computer, and generally get myself set up before the 9 o’clock start.
Then the lecturer arrives and it’s BAM, full on,until he calls a break at about ten thirty. He brings so much energy to the room, deliberately making the room a safe place to ask questions, but keeping the pace fast and fun so that we are learning HEAPS about the writing process and whichever topic we’re up to this week. I take lots of notes on my computer and listen hard. We get a quick loo break and then steam on again, usually with group work or exercises, full pace until we finish at twelve, by which time I am wrung out – my brain is full.
Yesterday I knew was going to be stressful because we were warned the week before to bring hard copies of our 2000 word stories, to share in groups. We did a process called ‘creative development’ where you read your story to a small group, who provide critique, but you’ve asked for some direction beforehand – in my case, I’m still not sure that the end of my story is working, so I wanted some feedback on that. The idea is that the group expands your thinking, they might throw in some ideas that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.
And if I had been more confident yesterday I think I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, I don’t think I have EVER been more nervous reading something in my entire life. My hands were shaking, my knees were knocking, my voice was tremulous, my nose was running, my eyes watered. I was a mess and instead of it getting easier the further I read, the more difficult it became. ARRRRGH! The other five students in the group noticed but were kind, and had useful comments to make about the story. At the end of the session when the lecturer came around and asked for comments I said that it had been exceptionally nerve-wracking because it wasn’t just reading something to ‘people’, it was reading work to other WRITERS.
After we finish our group work, the lecturer usually has some sort of video thing to wind down, tries to leave us with something funny, something that reinforces the points that he’s spent the lecture making. The whole structure of the three hours is really carefully thought out so the class gets the best use of the time, but it is full on and really tiring for me. I love it – I have never enjoyed a class so much, and it’s very different from the stressful time I had last semester – but it’s exhausting.
After class I usually go to lunch with some friends from the class. We kept talking about how cool the things we’d done in class were, and one of the girls who hadn’t felt able to read her story during class time was able to share it around the lunch table once we’d all eaten, which was amazing – so we had our own Creative Development session for her there. She was just about as nervous as I had been, which was oddly reassuring for me – I didn’t feel like such an idiot for being apprehensive. And I felt like I was able to give her some useful feedback.
Then off to my small scrapbooking group – not because I was going to work on anything (although I do have a small project to start on, a birthday card for my brother) but because I owed them a visit and they are dear friends, and I wanted to see them. I called to check it was still okay to come, since by now it was after two o’clock, and the hostess said ‘please come.’ Only problem was I missed the turn, got lost, and spent another fifteen minutes trying to find my way back to where I should have been – I don’t know that side of town – arrgh! A cup of tea and a chat, a sit down for about an hour, and then back home in the almost-rush traffic again and I had to put myself to bed.
I was quite shaky and anxious. I know part of this is the depression, I know normally I can manage this level of driving, but just at that moment I needed to lie down under the quilts and be warm and not do very much. And it was my Dad’s birthday yesterday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! So I gave him a quick call before I fell into bed. I did manage to call the dentist and get an appointment about a sore tooth, so that was at least one more thing taken care of, but – phew, I had had enough of Friday.
Meanwhile, Mr B had had a very productive day – he’d used the pots and potting mix we’d bought on Thursday and split up some of his carnivorous plants; he’d re-potted some succulents that were well overdue; planted out some nigellas that needed to be moved from pots into the ground, and sundry other garden jobs. I’m going to steal some off his photos from his blog, since he took some marvellous pics.
So that’s about it. We have a two week semester break now, but I have homework – editing the 2000 word story – and by editing, the assignment is really re-writing the whole thing again to try and make it better. I think I’m going to try it in first person instead of third person, that sort of thing. And I’m meeting with two of the girls from class on Tuesday to see how we’re all going with that.
Oh, and I mustn’t forget – tomorrow a group of us are going to see the lecturer’s latest play performed at the local theatre – we all decided to go to the Sunday matinee. Looking forward to that.