Thursday, May 29, 2014

My DCH Writing Class & Why Carpal Tunnel Is Worth It...

Yesterday I spent ten minutes writing about a turtle named Elvis who was trying to subtly catch a ladybug in hopes of earning the "hustle jacket" from his Nebraskan turtle clan by a pond. No, I wasn't on shrooms, and no, I haven't gone off the deep end completely, but it was for our 10-minute warm up in writing class at DCH. The word suggestion was "hustle," which completely made my day because I could've written 500 more things revolving around that spectacular verb. And then on my drive home after class I continued to think about Elvis and if he was truly a hustler or not. And then I found myself just constantly thinking about this freaking turtle's personality, his favorite bug to eat, whether or not he got along with his older turtle siblings, how he talked, did he have a mid-Western accent or a hustler's voice, and so forth.

And so, the post about how obsessed I am with writing class now finally comes... (Don't roll your eyes, I know I blab about DCH 94% of the time but this is my blog and according to the late Maya Angelou, "You should figure out who you are and what you need, and don't apologize for it.") So boom. Not apologizing for the fact that I love my writing class, writing family, and writing exercises that may or may not sometimes involve turtle hustling.

At this point I'm basically a Netflix critic/analyst, I read a crap ton of my favorite writers' stuff, and I took film and theatre classes at SMU. But up until this point I've never taken a formal screenwriting/playwriting/sketch-writing class. And I've never considered myself to be a writer because all I've ever done is blog/tweet cynically and B.S. political events/policies in analytical/25-page/scholarly/boring styles. So when I signed up for DCH's 'intro to sketch' this term I had no idea what to expect (I was wanting a challenge and boy howdy that's what I got) and was 1/3 excited and 2/3's terrified. I also found out after the fact that Amanda Austin would be my writing teach and that pretty much sent me into panic mode because as I've told her (and everyone else at DCH) drunkenly multiple times, she's the Madeleine Albright to my Leslie Knopes and was one of the few humans that intimidated me in the world. (And if you don't get that Parks & Rec reference we simply cannot be friends anymore.)

Well, we just wrapped up week four of class last night and it was semi-depressing. I obviously signed up for level two because seven weeks is just not enough for me. I'm finally comfortable writing my heart out with no filter and subsequently performing anything that I deem to be just downright mortifying and/or uncomfortable. I'm also no longer terrified of Amanda because how can you be intimidated by a kickass instructor that signs class emails with "hearts and farts, A." ... you just can't. Don't get me wrong, I respect the sh*t out of her, along with everyone else in my class; every single person is truly different in their perspective on life, writing style, POVs, etc.. That's what makes it so fun. I'm in awe of everyone and what they bring to the table each week. That is my most favorite way to learn; opening up my mind and getting out of my comfort zone and hearing everyone else's ideas. Group mind/think. It's the best. I would do it twice, even thrice a week if I could. (Ok, seven days a week, let's be honest).

Also people-watching has always been a peculiar hobby of mine and this odd quirk comes into great use for this class. If I've ever met you/gotten to know you semi-well, chances are pretty high that parts of you have been in my characters/writings. It's just so great pulling people from my past (and present) to use in forming characters. Because dear sweet baby Jesus, like everyone else, I've met some incredible "characters" in my 24 years on this earth. And I'm not kidding when I say that during my nightly prayers I thank God for who He's placed in my life's path because it has provided me with colossal amounts of inspiration. Colossal amounts, I tell you.

Lastly, there's something about the vulnerability factor involved in taking this class that I'm secretly in love with. For the longest I was wrapped up in others' perception and maintaining normality, (mostly in thanks to an SMU education and Southern sorority experience) and I'm still working on this/getting better, thanks to DCH. But with this class, I have learned that I must let all of that go out the window immediately or else nothing will work. Because if I'm the slightest bit embarrassed or not 100% confident in my material, it will be evident, and it will not help anyone involved. So as incredibly humbling as it is, I love it. My hands only slightly shook this last week as I read my most recent monologue. And on a scale of espresso-ridden/crack-addict shaking hands to a basically deceased person's non-moving hands, I was right in the middle. Which is major progress for me considering my first stand-up presentation in that class in which I nearly vomited everywhere. But to be fair, it was the first class, and all seven (eight if you include my Madeleine Albright instructor) of my other classmates are (or nearly) DCH graduates and insanely incredible performers/humans).

So, with that my fellow Americans/friends, I'm going to wrap this sappy post up and go finish some more writing for class. I vote that you all go read my DCH prof's blog,, which I find to be funny and if I find it funny then it's funny, and/or sign up for a writing class. Because like improv, it will change your life. Also according to my Blogger tracker I have readers in France, Mexico, Italy, and Canada. So, whether or not this is accurate, I'll change the "fellow Americans" to "fellow humans" next time...

PS- the pic below is what I picture Elvis the turtle to sort of be like...