NANOWRIMO is approaching the finish line. Last year I sprinted across the finish line with an extra two hundred fifty words in a draft work of fiction. I didn’t take the challenge this year but remain busy revising and editing last year’s work. Which made me think of my only non-fiction success about Ray Bradbury.
Going back in time
Walking back to 1975. I was a second class petty officer in the US Navy. The Navy sent me to attend Del Mar College to take an electronic engineering curriculum. Most of the classes were technical subjects, but I took creative writing as an elective.
Montage and creative writing
The course used a text book comprising a montage of pictures and snippets of text. I found the assignments, unlike any in my technical course or other electives. This course instructor said there was no correct answer to his assignments. Whatever one wrote, it would not be wrong. However, how it was presented was graded.
I wrote the required number of words about whatever I found on the assigned page. One assignment always cam to mind. I wrote about what a large red circular spot meant to me. It occupied the assigned page alone. Forgive me, but I don’t remember if I described it as a drop of blood, a fall setting sun, or something else. The red spot I remembered.
The final assignment was a paper on my favorite literary author. I selected Ray Bradbury. He wrote Fahrenheit 51, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and others which I found enjoyable. I debated with my instructor he was a recognized literary author. He gave in with the caveat I had to convince him he was in my paper.
I didn’t have the internet to assist me. It wouldn’t be in its infancy for another twenty years.
Researching in a library
The library’s card catalog was a quick way to find a book by an author or on a subject. The catalog was a collection of index cards for books on its shelves, and provided the author, subject, title, and Dewey Decimal Classification number. The Dewey Decimal number enabled quickly locating the work within the library shelves.
Another resource was compendiums for magazines and other periodicals. These cross-referenced articles by author and subject. The materials I used were available on microfiche. A microfiche reader was used to read the articles.
I spent uncounted hours in the library going from the card catalog to the shelves or microfiche. I read what was written and decided if it was material for my paper. References were scarce then, though Wikipedia has extensive material now.
I collected my reference material and wrote, what I considered, a powerful position paper. Paper submitted, Then the wait for the instructor’s comments. Success, I convinced him Ray Bradbury might not be mainstream, but was an acceptable subject for the assignment. His response was worth more to me than the grade of “A” I received.
Grade for my fiction
Now I revise the work from last year’s NANO and strive to make it something readers will give me an “A” for after reading it. Note: there is no prospective date for publication.
Did you write this NANO? Have a work you are revising? I would enjoy hearing about it. Use the comment form to share.