Friday, June 15, 2012

Two Days Late and ... 200 Dollars Short?

Tuesday marked the official end of my class with GothamWriters Workshop. I took the Creative Writing 101 class that lasted for six weeks. Our teacher was great and my fellow students were interesting, especially the ones who participated in the discussions. In fact, we might even form a writers group out of it. We’ll see. I already feel as though I’m in too many. But the question is:

Was it worth the money I paid for it?

Well, many of the lessons, echoed or were echoed by the recent book I bought, “My First Novel”, which I was reading while taking the class. A lot of it seemed to be stuff that I’ve been picking up by osmosis and practice. However, the lesson on show versus tell was a good one, especially the exercise that went with it.

I wrote about  (and shared) 
Princess Cristalina. I drew this
when I first imagined Rainbow
Island, back when I was 10.
In fact, I think the exercises were the best part. It was like Marc’s Daily Writing Practice blog, only done weekly and requiring more words (but no more than 500). Unlike the exercises in the book, there was a teacher on the other side, who gave encouraging feedback, while pointing out weaknesses. One of mine is that I’m not good at writing short stories. I might think I am writing one, but it always seems to turn into an excerpt form a novel.

As to the class structure, it worked out well. The class was conducted on-line, but rather than totally self paced, it had deadlines and discussion with the teacher following each lesson.  And I can now print the lessons, the discussions AND my work with teacher and student comments (you could share your last piece with whole class). Very useful to me since I didn’t take notes.

The virtual classroom also had a live chat feature. It wasn't used too much. Only two of us caught the teacher at one of the scheduled times (as far as I know). It’s just hard to coordinate a international group. Besides, our teacher was running  the class while nursing and infant, traveling, and getting so sick she had to be hospitalized (she’s better now, thank goodness).

 So was it worth it?

Yes, I think so. It wasn’t that much more than other classes I’ve heard about (it actually cost around $300 something). I also wanted to make sure I didn’t jump the gun and launch into one of Gotham’s genre specific classes without verifying I had the basics covered. Still, I might be able to get just as much form a slightly cheaper cost. I know a fellow NaNo Marylander is taking one soon. I'll be checking with her once it's over. 

Still Gotham does have a few things going for it:
  • They call themselves Gotham and are located in the major metropolis of New York City, which gives them major cool points
  • Their on-line class structure was very easy to navigate, even we didn't use the live chat much.
  • The instructor was very nice and approachable (though I couldn't ask for clarification to her comments on my work)
  • According to a classmate, if the teacher drops the ball they are willing to transfer you to a new class with a better teacher (that’s how she came to be a student in my class).
  • They offer genre specific classes, as well as some geared towards the business side of publishing. (My plan is to take the Fantasy/Sci-Fi class next).
  • Technical help was quick to respond to me and fix the issue I was having.

All in all, it was a good experience. So I’ll be back, if I have the funds for it. The family extracurricular activities are looking as though they may be a bit more expensive this coming school year.
:} Cathryn Leigh


  1. Sounds great - though the cost makes me wince a bit. Still, at least it was useful to you, and the online format wasn't the horror I feared it might be when you first mentioned it.

    And, of course, funding when you have a family is always a pain - you have the same situation my mum did, an older girl, a younger boy and a pretty active dad involved. Hope everything goes well for you, though! Are the kids still doing Tae-Kwon-Do (if that's the martial art they were doing?)

    1. Yes, funding is something I must be mindful of. With my love of dance (I was just told today thatby my Zumba instructor that I could be good at hip hop) and other creative hobbies - balancing where my money goes is essential, hence why I'm looking at once class a year - though I have no idea how many I might take in the end.

      It's just fun to keep learning. So I expect that not all of my classes will be about writing. :}

  2. I've never been particularly enthusiastic about the idea of taking writing classes because I'm stubborn. I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses, and I'll keep writing until I iron out all the kinks - and I don't take advice very well. I prefer to do things on my own. I know what works for me.

    I'm sure I could learn loads, but I'm too stubborn to do it. *sigh*

    Sounds like it worked for you, though =)

    1. Well the teacher led by examples from published books, some I knew and some I didn't. For me it was a emphasis of what I've begun to internalilze. Now that it's on the 'outside' I can turn it back in and pay more attention to.

      And her critique was not at all like what English teachers tend do in school. It was constructive critisim, and useful advice.

      If you can take my critique of Watching, you could have taken her class.

      I got two of the members to join Protagonize *grins*