On a hill at the central point of the town sits my high school alma mater, Needham High. It’s been a few years since I walked those halls and up and down the hill to the pizza place across the street during free periods. Wasn’t an “open campus” concept great? I remember each English class with mixed results. Sophomore year presented a solid foundation for critical reading and writing with Mrs. Mueller. Junior year I tried one of the alternative offerings. A complete waste – or LAF as we called the class, Language Its Art & Function. I can see the teacher in my mind, but don’t recall his name. Must not have made an impression on me. Senior year before heading to college, I realized I needed a traditional course again. I’m sure they abolished an open campus policy. I hope they dismissed LAF as a class as well.
A year ago, I began my creative writing journey with an online course. I learned a great deal through those extensive six months which gave me the confidence to launch the start of my novel. I used three class assignments (A Stop Along the Way, Presenting Dr. Elliott, First Class) to develop scenes for the novel. Now I’m on Chapter 8, page 89 and at 26,000 words with “First Class” already blended in to the end of Part One and the other two scenes waiting in the wings of the story’s timeline. Little did I realize those two assignments would flow into each other for plot development and the introduction of a major conflict for my main character. I’m sure they will need to be polished and edited since I first wrote them, but at least they’re ready to be inserted in a couple more chapters.
This September, I enrolled in a creative writing class through my local library. They received a grant from the Cape Cod Arts Foundation to offer the class for free. Why not take advantage of it and continue to hone my skills? I am by no means a proficient writer. I need all the practice and help I can get. About 35 people showed up for the first class, men and women mostly around my age. While I’m thrilled many year-round residents enrolled, it also shows the level of interest out there to become a writer. More competition for publication. More competition for attracting readers. I noted three other women mentioned an interest in historical fiction. I hope I can connect with them to spark an interest in each other’s work and possibly find a local, in-person critique partner. Work travels takes me away for a few sessions but the instructor said he would forward the class hand-outs, etc. along to me. Thanks, Corey.
As I drove through Needham yesterday and stopped to take a pic of NHS on the hill, I wondered – did any famous authors walk those halls? We’ve turned out two current governors, Charlie Baker (MA) and Phil Murphy (NJ) are both alums – the same year as my brother, Mark, and 617 other students in the class. Mark claims 1975 must have been a very good year. Gold medalist Olympian, Aly Raisman, attended NHS. Former NHL player and coach, Robbie Ftorek, skated as a Needham Rocket. Sunita Pandya Lyn Williams, astronaut and member of the International Space Station, is the younger sister of one of my classmates. N.C. Wyeth, the artist is from Needham. I’m sure there are others notable names from different walks of life. But, from a quick Google search, I couldn’t find any well-known, popular authors. I guess it will be up to Janis Robinson Daly, class of 1980, to leave that mark.