I have just completed “Creative Nonfiction III,” a ten-week writing course offered through UCLA Extension.
And, I didn’t complete all my homework.
In addition to workshopping essays every other week, each student was supposed to read a book a week. There was no prescribed reading list. We were simply to read one book each week of class. And I didn’t.
When I’ve taken this course in prior years, I diligently completed all my reading homework. I calculated the minimum number of pages I needed to read each day to make sure the book would be finished on time. It was stressful. I’d power-read, just trying to get the book finished without truly enjoying what I was reading or paying attention to the author’s tone or the book’s structure.
So with this class, I decided I wasn’t going to do that again. I would try to read a book a week, but if it didn’t happen, so be it. There is no negative consequence. I wasn’t taking this class for a grade. I was taking it for me. I pushed myself during this class, writing in a couple of new styles, writing on different topics. And I slowed myself down to enjoy what I was reading.
I may not have finished ten books in ten weeks, but overall, I did pretty well.
Since class started in October, I have read:
- Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood by Phillip Done
- The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Tell Me More – Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan
- Writing Is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor
- Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro
And I’m currently reading. Wherever You Are: A Memoir of Love, Marriage, and Brain Injury by Cynthia Lim (an author I first met through a Writers Retreat and who has also taken classes through UCLA Extension).
Readers, I’d love to hear about any books you’ve read in the last ten weeks. Feel free to share in the comments section!