Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass, Lesson 2.

These were (partial) notes from Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass, Lesson 2.  They’ve been sitting in my drafts queue here on WordPress for far too long, so I’m moving them out into the world in case any of you can benefit from them. I am unaffiliated. You’re welcome 😉😘 😆. You might also like to see my notes from Lesson 1. And perhaps this strange thing I wrote as well, on wine and fairy godmothers. And this other strange thing, on Margaret Atwood and wasps. Yes I’m obsessed. With a lot of other things too. I’ll get through it somehow.


Rough notes:

  • Says she became a writer partly because she was a very early reader – they lived in the north woods and there were no other forms of entertainment other than books. No running water, no electricity. In the winter they’d go back to the city. Other children were afraid of getting lost in the woods, MA was afraid of flush toilets.
  • Wrote her first novel at age seven. An illustrated story about an ant. She dryly says it wasn’t a great success. Then lost interest and wanted to be a painter.
  • She is so funny on the next part. She talks about her job as a puppeteer.
  • Started writing seriously again when she was 16. Wanted to go to journalism school. Was discouraged from that because she was told that if she were a female reporter she’d only be writing obituaries and fashion pieces. (This was in the 50’s.)
  • Then she thought she’d run away to Paris, live in a garret, smoke cigarettes, drink absinthe, write masterpieces, die young.
  • But first she’d go to English Language and Literature. Because she might conceivably end up as a teacher before jumping off the bridge.
  • Then she—


Oh wait. I said I wouldn’t obsessively document these things. Ok, hit publish and get back to work. 😉


Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. If you wish to contribute and/or show appreciation, please recommend/like and/or comment — or send email via the contact page. Thank you for reading. ❤︎



11 thoughts on “Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass, Lesson 2.

  1. strider48

    Wonderful stuff. I find Margaret Atwood fascinating. I haven’t read the Handmaid’s Tale yet, I’m not sure it’s a subject matter I’m comfortable with.

    I read the Penelopiad some years ago and Oryx and Crake too. Trying to get more of them on my Kindle without paying a fortune.

    I wrote (most of) my first novel age 11 but got discouraged by teasing at school. I reread the manuscript a while ago and was both amused and appalled at how juvenile it was.

    You are in France atm? I thought you were in Canada.
    Email me if you find chatting easier that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Handmaid’s Tale is an absolute must-read. It was on the required/recommended reading list in Canadian high schools when I was growing up. It has special meaning now especially in restrospect, I’d say, considering 9/11. In very short terms I would say it’s the feminine version of Orwell’s 1984, which I found a horrific but perhaps necessary read. The Handmaid’s Tale is nowhere near as horrific as that. Oryx and Crake was difficult for me in terms of the disturbing factor. I haven’t read Penelopiad, will have to put it on the list. You can borrow a digital version of the Handmaid’s Tale, here, I believe:

      I always wonder about the ethics of fiction though. How much does life imitate art and vice-versa? That was a huge blocker for me when it came to writing, at first. MA says that she draws her ethical line at never writing something that hasn’t already happened at some point in human history. But sometimes I think it’s better to write simply what *is,* in the moment, from our own true perspective. That’s why I love reading blogs.

      Yes we live in France! I like chatting in comments so that others can maybe benefit as well. :))


    2. p.s. so cool that you wrote (most of) a novel at age 11! Yes I cringe at my old writing too. Though the pieces that were written for (and helped by) teacher guidance/critique in school or university are okay. I feel happiest with those. I guess because writing for a specific audience? Even if just one teacher? Interesting, thanks for making me think about that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. strider48

        I think I have always written, mostly for pleasure. A lot of my work involved technical writing and it took a long time to pull myself away from that type of writing and develop a narrative approach. I still find it difficult. The skill my teachers gave me was the effective use of grammatical rules. When I say ‘gave’ I mean pummelled into my young brain remorselessly and continually. It paid off though and I venerate the memory of their lessons.

        It was the same with French. My teacher would hand me a copy of Le Monde, point to an article and expect me to not just translate it but discuss it in French. It worked wonders!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow that is really cool about the French! And so hard! Yes I love grammar too. But when it comes to writing and grammar, it’s Learn -> Unlearn -> Relearn, as they say. We have to get free of it sometimes in order to write well. Morning pages, morning pages, morning pages… ;))

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Bernie Delaney

    Read the Handmaid’s Tale years ago and loved it. I’ve seen both film versions, the first one is more true to the original book, though the second is an interesting interpretation.
    The Master Class sounds fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is, it’s really good. And a stupendous deal since it was only €150 for ALL the classes (45+ instructors, so far, and more added all the time, super high-quality video tutorials plus PDF booklets and community forums) for a whole year, when I signed up. It’s still a stupendous deal at the current price of €200, especially if you actually do the work. The only reason I haven’t finished it yet is because of class ADD (they keep adding more and more instructors/classes) and this obsessive urge to document each class, which helps the info sink in for me. But it equates to work and I am very, very lazy. I liked the first film version of the Handmaid’s Tale well enough too. The second one looks crazy good, but as I said (to Matthew) I don’t think I could take it. Thanks for dropping by Bernie :)) xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I looked at the MasterClass offerings back when it first started. James Patterson was the only writer so I was like, “Eh. I’ll come back later when there’s more of a selection.”

    Fast forward to last week. I hadn’t been back to see the updated list. MasterClass, like so many things had fallen through the cracks. Luckily for me, a friend (who is SO AWE-some!), bought Neil Gaiman’s class and gifted it. It is FANTASTIC! I’m trying to keep to one class a day to savor the experience. Have you finished Atwood’s MasterClass? If so, what’d you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, here’s to things falling through the cracks. I have been so bad about this! But the number one reason is I feel like I have to take notes and share it all! I just have to get back to it for myself maybe. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Margaret Atwood’s class and I actually never want it to end. That’s the other reason. She is just so amazing. I got up to lesson four I think. I just felt like what she was offering was so good, I wanted to make it last and last! The price for the all access pass is ridiculous and so worth the investment — errr, IF you actually do the classes and don’t keep trying to savour them all. lol.


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