IWSG for May: Reader response
This…reminds me of the first creative writing class that I attended with my dad, in Springfield, Missouri many years ago.
I still remember the sweet souls of my classmates, various ages of adulthood. We were excited writers. Compelled to encourage each other. Not one naysayer in the group, teacher excluded.
The class assignment: Write a story. Easy peasy. We would read our story in front of the class. Say what? I did not sign up for public speaking. Potential public criticism haunted my brain.
I still have a copy of The Color Red, typed out on an electric typewriter, title provided last minute by my dad, on our way to class. The story was about this chick leaving her night class (wow, how original), late at night, to find the car she'd left parked alongside a street.
In my defense, I gave my readers (in this case listeners) clues that something would happen. Even back then, I liked when my stories intruded on the reader’s mental and emotional stability. Is that so wrong? Maybe.
I read the ending and heard the following responses: a couple of nervous giggles, one gasp and then an awkward silence. The kind of silence that makes you want to say a million rambling words to fill the space.
When I finally looked out at my classmates, all eyes were on me. Eyes that questioned, maybe wondered, could they ever trust the darkness of night or people, again? Most of their stories were feel good stories of love or experience. There wasn’t one Boogeyman story in the bunch.
“Great job,” the instructor said, startling me out of my zone. “You did your job of setting up the story to lead us to a surprise ending."
My little audience clapped for me, but I felt defeated.
At break, most of my fellow writers congregated around me saying that they liked the story and other things, but my brain would not allow their encouraging responses. One classmate explained that it would be a while before she could get my story out of her head. (I did think that was a good thing.) A couple of ladies said they were nervous to walk to their cars after class. A few of the women and one man said they would be willing to walk as a group to the cars. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them that any one those people could be a killer.) I came out of my funk and drove home happy knowing I had touched their lives in a small, intrusive way.
Have you ever written or said something where others responded in a way that surprised you?