I just finished a ten-week online novel writing class. I must say at the outset that I liked the convenience of working from my computer at home and not having to drive twelve miles once a week up to the Westside of Los Angeles about twelve miles in all the evening traffic. But, those are the only two advantages I can think of.
However, I missed the one-to-one interchange and give and take with people in a classroom setting. I couldn’t get their personalities from their written comments. And since I had worked with the instructor before, even her wonderful outgoing personality didn’t show through from the comments and lectures and other documents she posted online.
Of course the material for the class was adequate but it was just that – material, with no room for discussion about it. We did our writing assignments and posted them on time every week. And we posted a comment on at least two of our classmates work every week. Even though I found that quite enough work for me since I was very much involved with caring for my husband and his broken foot throughout the entire ten-week period, other students commented on the work of many more of their colleague’s work, making me feel a little guilty.
Perhaps because I came into the class at the third level and missed the first two levels that took place last summer and fall, my experience was less than wonderful. I needed more information about the books the others were writing, and I think I would have gotten that information had we discussed them face-to-face in a classroom – even though I was a later comer to the class. I couldn’t read everyone’s work every week, so I skipped around to get a taste of the work of several people. Not a good way to get the whole gist of the stories that I read. And I’m sure my classmates felt the same way about my work. There was no way, because of how the assignments were structured, for any of us to post our scenes in chronological order.
However, this class pushed me to get a lot of novel writing done. I wrote the equivalent to the assigned 300 words a day – some days I wrote more and some days less, and I’m left with a good chunk of writing done. And I even have a lot of comments that will help me in fleshing out the scenes I have and creating new ones later on. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about dropping the class because I was so overwhelmed over my husband’s accident – it happened during the first week of class. But, I’m really glad I stuck it through.
Next time, though, I’ll take something held in a classroom and not online, no matter how long and inconvenient the drive to school is. I must be too old fashioned for this online stuff.