It’s off to the presses! Our class’s collection of short stories was released on Amazon and Create Space last week. This week has been a source of reflection and pride as we peruse the finished product and reflect on the process that has brought us to this point. If anyone had told me four months ago that I would have a published piece of fiction, I would have seen it as an insult to my academic prosaic sensibilities and laughed outrightly!

A couple of weeks ago our class had a special guest: Pittsburgh based author Howard Shapiro. He made some very relevant comments. He said that to improve as a writer, one has to write what is uncomfortable for them. Since his forte is children’s books, he said that if he wanted an educational exercise he would write a full length novel for an adult audience.

Writing a fictional short story has certainly been way out of my comfort zone. I would even go far as to say that it was downright dreadful at first! But you eventually warm up to it once you learn to stretch and it eventually becomes more comfortable. It is like introducing yourself to a stranger. At first it is awkward and uncertain. Will I make fool of myself? It is worth all of this? But, once the introduction is made and conversation is initiated, things flow more naturally. Maybe you hit it off and become friends for life?

I can not honestly say that fiction and I have become fast friends for life. At best I will go back to my dry academic research papers after this and fiction writing will remain a cordial acquaintance. But, this exercise in writing what is uncomfortable for me has been a great learning experience. I will read fiction happily on occasion, but i will not be writing the next great American novel or topping the New York Times bestseller list. And that is perfectly fine with me. I will leave that to my illustrious and talented classmates who have continued to surprise and impress me throughout this process. They have every right to be extremely proud to finally have this book in print.

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