So here’s the thing: in a fit of unprecedented ambition, I asked for a subscription to MasterClass for my birthday. And the first one I’m taking is Neil Gaiman’s Storytelling course. I am ready for this. I am pumped. I am geared up to learn. I have my metaphorical binder and actual literal notebook and pens and my brain is a sponge awaiting knowledge!
I watch the first class (an introduction, as though I don’t know who Neil Gaiman is?? Have these people not seen my Amazon Prime history???). Great. Fine. Next. Truth in Fiction. Perfect. I, too, believe in truth in fiction. All good stories are true. Unfortunately not all true stories are good. The real world is disappointing like that. Anyway, so far Neil and I understand each other. Copacetic. Sweet.
Then… I read the first homework assignment.
Neil Gaiman wants me to write a few paragraphs about something that embarrassed me, or made me sad, or something I regret. He wants me to be uncomfortably honest.
It is late at night. My heart is racing. My palms are clammy.
Oh boy, I do not want to do this. Uh-uh. Pass. I am the Nopetopus. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, is it too late for a refund?
Okay, it’s too late for a refund. But like, maybe I don’t… have to do the homework? No one’s going to check. I’m a grown-up. I’m not being graded.
On the other hand, what’s the point of taking the class if I’m not going to do the work? Don’t I owe it to myself to do this as completely as possible?
Gulping, I continue reading the assignment. After I do this writing, Neil Gaiman wants me to read it out loud to someone.
Jesus Christ, Neil. “Submit yourself to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” That’s the first lesson? Wouldn’t you rather just have a kidney? I’ve got two of those. What the hell are you going to do to me next class?
I can’t do this tonight, I decide. I will give it my fair shot tomorrow.
And then I stay up until midnight replaying the Greatest Hits of My Embarrassing Early Teenage Years.
That was last night. This morning I did the assignment. This afternoon I phoned my friend, put her on speaker, and read the damn thing. My pulse raced. I felt hot and sweaty all over. Mind you, I had just walked the dog. There could’ve been some overlap. I stumbled over my words, I talked too fast. My hands and voice shook.
And at the end she knew me a little better, and I knew I could be brave enough to be known.
But I’m still putting a moratorium on watching Neil’s classes after 8PM. I need my beauty sleep.