By Eui-jo Marquez
By Eui-jo Marquez
You could learn a lot from Susan St. Peters. She’s the creator and instructorr of Riverside City College’s new Introduction to Screenwriting and Introduction to Film classes. And she’s a pro.
But screenwriting and film aren’t all she could teach you. She could teach you about hard work, perseverance and time management, too.
On top of Introductions to Screenwriting and Film, St. Peters also teaches two English 1B classes and works in the writing lab. St. Peters is one of the two instructors preparing the curriculum for the study abroad program’s spring semester in Oxford.
Despite her full load, she still has the energy to make her screenwriting class an interesting and exhilarating experience. It meets every Tuesday night for three hours. As in all classes, some students stare off into space but the majority are enthralled. She’s a whirlwind of energy, eagerly reading excerpts from student’s work. Later one night the class watched parts of “The Shawshank Redemption.”Assignments include eavesdropping for story ideas and taking note of whatever the whiners in her student’s life say. “Truth is stranger than fiction,” she said, quoting Mark Twain.
Five minutes into her class and it’s obvious that she loves what she does. And loving what you do means success. Unlike instructors who treat their students like children, St. Peters makes a point of treating the students in her classes like equals. Students call her Susan. She pours tons of time and energy into her classes and does all she can to help students become better writers. She is the kind of instructorr who makes it easier to love learning.
St. Peters puts her all into critiquing her students’ papers, which are covered in red writing. Red’s not bad- -it means she loves you. She shares the thoughts your writing inspired, questions to draw out more info, and hints and help about subject matter. This is a real life class and St. Peters prepares you for the real world of screenwriting.Fortunately, Southern California is a hotspot for screenwriters.
St. Peters recently graduated from the UC Los Angeles Extension’s Screenwriting Program. She has experience in the “Biz”, and is working on her third screenplay. Her first, “The Surprise of Your Life” was a finalist at the 2003 Screenplay Festival and her second, “Black and White and Cute All Over” was a finalist in 2005. “Black and White and Cute All Over” was also a quarter finalist in the 2005 Fade In Awards.
St. Peters said she didn’t think she could ever finish a screenplay. But after her first she knew she could do many more. Her network of close friends and mentors helps her stay motivated. And she, in turn, helps students stay motivated.
“I’m the evil trainer, the friend who gives you a positive push, the life guard who says jump in the pool,” she said.
Like Thomas Edison said, “genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
It’s no secret that writing can be an arduous task.
“Writing equals butt on chair,” St. Peters said.
Natural talent is not nearly as important as perseverance and skill. With St. Peter’s knowledge and experience she can help you acquire the skills. Maybe you’re afraid to share your writing. Maybe you’re afraid of failing. Maybe you think you’re a bad writer.
“Writing badly is better than not writing at all,” St. Peters said.
Even if you don’t want to be a writer the idea still applies. Plus, according to St. Peters, everybody has one novel in them.
It’s time to let go of fear and dive into life.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?