“Writer, You Say What?”
Guest Writer: R. L. Norman
He stood across the room from me not saying a word. I was slowly becoming nervous as he just stared at me, looking all seductive. As he walked slowly towards me, I backed up until I could go nowhere.
I bumped into the desk that was behind me and stumbled for a brief moment. He took that opportunity to get as close to me as possible.
Then he was directly in front of me, blocking my way between the desk and the door to the classroom. And just as I was about to say something, he suddenly grabbed me, pushing me down on the desk.
“I want to see if Norman kisses as good as his books state,” he said in almost a whisper as he stared into my eyes.
At first I said, “STOP!”, with a force in my voice as I tried to push him away. But then, when his lips touched mine, I whispered “stop” because he suddenly had me under his control–and I simply could not deny my sexual urge for him.
But as he kissed me, I knew it was wrong because of who he was.
Who would have thought that only an hour before, I was standing in front of a classroom full of students. And now, I’m having my first “student-teacher conference”–so to speak.
You see, I was teaching a college creative writing course at Honey University. And, my job was to give them direction on how to write a book:
“Are you one of those people who thought about writing a book, but didn’t know where to start? Or, you hesitated because you didn’t know the first thing about writing? If your answer is “yes,” then this is the course for you! All you need do is to open yourself up and allow your ideas to flow onto paper. And the number one thing is that there is no wrong way to writing. Everyone has a different method to make their ideas come alive, if you will.” This is what I told my students.
Most of them consisted of housewives, businessmen, and recent college graduates. Their ages varied from 22 (an office assistant) to 67
(a great-grandmother who wanted to write her life story).
And of course, there was my problem student: Chauncey Whitmore III!
I was addressing the class, when in, he walks.
“During this course, I will give you the basic elements of writing a book. And then I want you to …”
(The door opens and closes.)
“Eh, excuse me! But did the dog break your time clock?” I directed my pointed question to the late arrival.
“Professor Norman, I am Chauncey Whitmore III, and I can explain why I’m late,” he replied, with a certain amount of arrogance in his voice.
As he stood there as if to say, “What nerve do you have to question me,” I immediately knew that he was going to be a problem. It was obvious he was a snob. I could tell that just by his demeanor and air of arrogance.
But I will admit, he was one sexy man! Very attractive, he was tall, brown skinned and muscular, with a mustache and shaved head. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties.
“Mr. Whitmore III, there is a time and place to be a storyteller,” I replied, because it was obvious that he was about to lie to me as he stood there trying to think of an excuse.
“Ah, Professor Norman, that’s cold! You don’t even want to hear my excuse?”
I ignored his question and responded, “You cannot be a writer if you don’t have discipline–especially time management. Please sit down.”
I looked back at my students. Some had smirks on their faces. They were obviously amused by our brief banter.
After Mr. Whitmore III sat down, I proceeded. “After that rude interruption, I will now continue. During this class, we will go through the basic elements of writing from the beginning until the time you submit your work to the publisher.
“And for the purpose of this class, I will be the publisher/editor. Any questions?” I looked around the room.
“Hmm, the man with no sense of time,” I said, peering at my problem student as he was raising his hand. “Yes, Mr. Whitmore?”
“Well, professor: how are you qualified to teach this class?” he asked with a high and mighty tone, as if he was challenging my credentials.
“Good question,” I replied.
“Well, let me tell you about my experience in writing. I didn’t plan on becoming a writer. I’m an engineer by profession. I didn’t write my first book until I was 50 years old. I am now 55, and have written five.
“I started writing my first book by accident. I kept a personal journal since I was in college. And every day, I would write a page or two of my thoughts and ideas of the day’s life, love and relationship events. I called it ‘starting small’. I suggest that for all first-time writers.
“And that brings up another point: what to write. Write about what you know! The easiest thing to write about is something you know about.”
Then, the not-so shy great-grandmother raised her hand.
“Yes, Mrs. Walker?”
“I’ve read some of your books, and they are about sex!” So I assume that is what you know.”
The class stared at me curiously, awaiting my reply.
“Well, my books are really about the ups and downs of someone searching for love.” I tried to refrain from talking about the sex part.
“But I bet the sex didn’t hurt! Professor, I’ve read all of your books, and it seems like you’re very experienced,” Mr. Whitmore added, with a smug look on his face.
Several people in the class muttered comments under their breath.
“This is going to be a challenge,” I said to myself.
“Okay, class. Look at your handout,” I said, once again ignoring another question by Whitmore. “I’m going to tell you the basics for writing a book; and during the course, we will discuss them in detail. Now, here’s the list:”
- What do you want to write about? As I’ve stated, write about what you know. And, character development is essential: create a character that your audience will want to know, and know about. That’s half the battle.
- Start small. Write little by little. Anytime an idea pops into your head, write it down so you won’t forget it. You can expand on it later.
- Develop an outline. As you write, make an outline. Organize your thoughts. Remember that everyone has a different method of writing. I write the beginning and ending, and then fill in the middle. That’s my style.
- Set a time to work on your book. Personally, I write whenever the mood hits me. Or I have an idea that I just have to write down, then and there. But if you are naturally a busy person, set a time to record your thoughts. And be accountable for your time. It’s all about setting goals.
- Choose a place to write. Pick a place that suits you best to make your thoughts come alive. When I write, I have the TV or radio on. Some people like complete quietness. It’s up to you.
- Give yourself a deadline. That’s where time management comes in. Set goals to complete various portions of your book. And that’s important because publishers and editors will give you certain deadlines.
- Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Make your writing sound realistic. Enable readers to understand what you are saying. As well, make your words come alive for readers, so that they can actually visualize what you are saying.
- Get early feedback. There is nothing worse than writing a book, and then having to rewrite the whole thing. Have a few people close to you help you discern what’s worth including in your book. And regardless of the criticism, stay motivated to finish your book. Because when you do, the rewards of self-accomplishment will be well worth it.
- Read, read and re-read your work. Make sure the story flows. The best way to do that is to read it! And always spell check your work. But here’s a little trick because the spell-checker doesn’t always catch everything…read your book backwards! I know it sounds crazy, but you will be surprised by how many errors you catch by doing that. Think about it: you probably know your book by heart. But by reading it backwards, you see errors that you may have missed.
- Embrace failure. Know that everyone is not going to like what you write or how you write. But criticism, good or bad, is part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid of rejection.
During the whole class, Chauncey was staring directly at me with lust in his eyes! He was eyeing me seductively, which made me a little tense.
“Our time is almost up for today,” I announced. “And during the course, we will discuss each point in detail. But in the meantime, do me a quick favor. Off the top of your head, record what you want to write about. Hand that in so I have a general idea about your thought process. This is all to prepare you for the final exam. And, we will discuss the topics anonymously at the next class.
“Class dismissed,” I said as I walked behind my desk and sat down. As they left the class, they each handed me a piece of paper with their book ideas. They seemed excited with my class so far. I sat behind my desk, pleased with my first day.
I got up to leave. At first, I didn’t notice that Chauncey Whitmore III had stayed behind, and was standing at the door smiling at me.
“Here is my book idea” he said, staring at me seductively.
And suddenly, he had me on my desk, kissing me aggressively. The song by Al Green filled my head, “If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t Want to be Right).”
I don’t know how long we kissed–or how long the dean of students was standing there watching us!
But once we were aware of it, reality set in and we jumped up quickly!
As we straightened our clothes, I was speechless.
“Dean, I can explain! I was just…..”
“You don’t have to explain, Professor Norman,” The dean said, interrupting me. “I came because I had a feeling that this was going to happen.”
“What?” I said with a puzzled looked on my face.
“Chauncey, you can leave! And, don’t let his happen again!” the dean said sternly, with a sound of familiarity towards Chauncey.
Chauncey smirked and didn’t utter a word as he left the room.
I looked at the dean, waiting to be reprimanded–and possibly fired.
“Professor Norman, don’t worry about this at all! It is not the first time he has done this. He can’t seem to help himself.”
“Oh,” I responded, confused. “He’s done this before?”
“Yes. And I know that firsthand! You see, he is my son,” the dean revealed as he walked out of the classroom.
As I stood there with my mouth hanging open, I was tongue-tied! Then I thought, “Oh, that’s right! Dean Whitmore. Chauncey Whitmore III!” I hadn’t realized the connection at first. Wow.
Well, this will be another chapter for my book, “The Miss-Adventures of Being Misunderstood.”
And never forget… put your work out there, and see what happens! And most importantly: NEVER, EVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAM.
R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The latest installment entitled, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask I Won’t Tell,” is now available in e-book format. As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L.also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.” And his Podcast, “Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else,debuted January 1 on itunes. All of these endeavors are part of his production company, Honey Let Me Tell You. You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/