Writing in KansasWriting in Rural Kansas

Last month (June 2017) my mother would have been 82, she passed in February.

Here is the thing, life is short.

I have first drafts completed of more novels than I care to mention, and screenplays. They are all rough; nothing edited. At this point, I would NEVER actually show any of it to anyone.

Growing up in rural Kansas I did not know anyone that wrote for a living, or even just for fun. Writing? It wasn’t on my radar.

For many reasons, I eventually put things I wrote for my art students, and I found it sold. I still did not think of myself as a “Writer.” I told myself that nonfiction is “practical,” it is not like fiction, which seemed so self-indulgent.

I did not pay much attention in my English classes. Why would I need English? After all, I was going to paint!

(I at this moment I formally apologize to all my former English instructors.)

You probably know where this is going, huh?

I expect things to be a bit wobbly and uncertain for me in the coming months. Natalie Goldberg says to give yourself at least two years of practice writing. Take that time to find your voice and discover what matters to you. I am impatient and hesitant to say I can wait two years. But whatever journey I am on, I am telling myself I am now officially taking the first REAL steps. Be that two years, or twenty. Wherever it takes me, I’m game.

Note: When organizing this weekend I came across the item shown above. If you are not familiar, Nancy Pickard is a respected Kansas author. At some point in the journey of wanting to write, we crossed paths. Sadly I can’t say for sure when, or where it happened. But I do know, this weekend the inscription above was just what I wanted/needed to read!

OK, what is a MOOC? “Massive Open Online Courses”, or free classes you can take online. That’s right, free.

Long ago Amazon.com offered courses you took for free. They had a text book of sorts that you purchase from them, or not. Then by way of a message board you did assignments, and had discussions with other students. It all has since gone way of Web 1.0. But, apparently the concept never really went away.

So I have been looking for a grammar/writing class. I could never find a fit. So last week I am reading a Money magazine article (May 2013) “College is Free”.

Long-story-short I am now signed up for “Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade”. It is being given by Mt. San Jacinto College, and yes it is free.

There are Art courses, Computer Science, Literature etc… Taught by professors at MIT, Berkley, and Harvard among others.  You can pay to get college credit for some, others you can only audit without charge. Some are self directed with no time limits, others are set up as a traditional online course with deadlines and discussions. Many that sign up do not finish.  I have read as high as 90%.

A few that may be interest readers:

At Coursera.org you can take a class at Penn State “Introduction to Art”

Saylor.org offers “Art History” coursework with a major

Udacity.com you can learn how to build a blog through “Web Development”

And at edx.org you can investigate the “Ideas of the 20th Century”

So if you sign up for one of these courses, please leave us a comment and let us know what you are taking and/or what you thought of courses you took in the past. Curious minds want to know!

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