Meet David

Headshot of David.

Like anyone of my vintage, I am keen to remain sharp mentally. This course proved to be a great way to do that while learning something new and having fun doing it. 

David, Writing Well: Storytelling student

David Williams is a retired natural resource and environmental economist. As a young man, he wanted a career that allowed him to see the world, have adventures and help people. He built a career in international development and has traveled to 85 countries and counting. Through Writing Well: Storytelling, David gained writing skills to tell the many stories he has collected along the way. 

What led you to seek out this course?

Two years ago, I asked my sister what she wanted for Christmas. She said: “You have led an interesting life. I want you to write a story for me”. I wrote four short stories for her that Christmas, another four for her birthday and another four stories this past Christmas. I enjoyed the process but had to admit that I didn’t really know what I was doing. I started searching for a course to take and landed on Writing Well: Storytelling at UBC, my alma mater. It looked like just the thing so I signed up. 

What was a highlight for you from the course?

My birth certificate says I am a senior citizen. Like anyone of my vintage, I am keen to remain sharp mentally. This course proved to be a great way to do that while learning something new and having fun doing it. In a note I posted thanking the instructor for the course, I said it was like he had taken one of those Swiffer mops and cleaned some cobwebs out of my 70-year-old brain. A necessary exercise!

What surprised you about the course?

I am a long-time rugby referee. You don’t last long without a thick hide. It was a surprise to me how shy I was initially about writing something and putting it “out there” for the instructor and other students to read, comment on and, possibly, criticize. Fortunately, I got over the shyness quickly thanks to the encouragement of my instructor (which was not surprising) but also my fellow students (which was surprising). I was pleasantly surprised that my fellow students took the time to make thoughtful and encouraging comments on the pieces I submitted. I tried to do likewise.

How are you applying the skills you learned in your personal or professional life?

Personally, the course has already helped me develop a more critical eye. The proof lies in the re-writes and edits I have done on pieces I wrote before I took Writing Well: Storytelling. The newly rewritten pieces are, on average, 1/3 shorter than the originals and are the better for it.

Who would you recommend this course to?

The not-too-helpful answer is that I would recommend the course to anyone who wants to write better.  I wanted to get better at writing non-fiction, but the course was just as valuable for fiction writers.  Because I am in the demographic, I recommend the course especially to seniors. You are never too old to go back to school. The course was a great workout for the brain. Change is good, especially when it pushes you outside your comfort zone. 

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