“It Was a Creative Shut Up”

I was sitting in our senior capstone course under the direction of our program’s director. It was the course to help guide us towards our capstone presentations to showcase either a research paper or creative project based upon our knowledge and showmanship of what we had gained at Oklahoma City University. It was an easy choice that took little debate for myself; I always was writing stories, writing in my diary, or dream journaling. I couldn’t and still can’t attest at being as creative as the greats, like Tolkien whose “not all who wander” quote is everywhere, but I knew what I loved: writing out the story that played in my head.

The prior summer, we were to work with our advisor and have a minimum page amount for the start of the year, and I didn’t just run with it. I took off in a freaking sprint and threw myself off a cliff with my story. It was exciting, and I pretended for the entire summer to be a well-known published author who had weekly meetings with my editor (my very knowledgeable advisor).

The first class of the course, I felt comfortable and sure of myself.

Especially when the professor announced, “You know, I think Abbie gets an unofficial award: most pages turned in. She turned in over 180 pages!”

Everyone around the room stared at me like I had lost my mind. Maybe I had. After all, there was no telling the story itself was of great substance, just something I really loved envisioning and recording as it went. There were a few “whoas” and “did you write all day and night” questions.

There was one eyeroll and a muttered, “Oh, shut up.”

The professor caught this because honestly, over the excited murmurs in the class, I didn’t notice. Also, I really wasn’t talking to this person at that time, an ex-friend who, to this day, I still think of sadly as a friendship that could have been great but in the end was toxic and better off without. So anytime we were in the same room, which was a lot due to us pursuing the same degree, I kept my eyes away from his seat and flat out lived my life as if he wasn’t there at all.

“I’m sorry,” the professor said, her voice confused and curious. “What did you say? Shut up?”

He was flustered, a moment of wide eyes and lips agape like a fish caught out of water. When I realized she was repeating what he had said in response to my work and small moment in the sun that was now cynically clouded, I couldn’t help the pointed stare I narrowed across the room at him.

He awkwardly shrugged a shoulder and laughed half-heartedly, as if we were sharing a joke. “It was a creative shut up.”

The other classmates looked oddly at him and expectantly at me.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve replayed this moment in my head, that heavy tension that I felt in chest that kept me from saying anything at all. Instead, I rolled my eyes while the professor was still watching my ex-friend timidly shrug off his poor attitude and put my eyes back on my laptop, at the huge amount of work I produced.

Nowadays, I wish I had looked at him, professor there or not, and said, “Hey, I have creative hand gesture for you,” and then I’d flip him the bird and give it a good shake to make sure the point got across.

Crass, yes. Deserved? It would have been. But it didn’t happen that way, no matter how many times I play it like that while deep in shower thoughts while shampooing my hair.

The professor moved the conversation along, as unfinished as things were, but I knew something then: I really had done something. Enough to evoke a pissed off remark when someone else wasn’t in the spotlight for once.

I relished it and still do.

So check out the work itself: Seedling. On my homepage, look for it and other publications under the Publication tab! Everything is via Amazon for a cheap price. I would love for you to see my actual work, not just my blog posts.

Until then, have a creative New Year!

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