Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'll Never Leave the Canyon/'Cause I'm Surrounded on All Sides/By People Writing Novels/And Living on Amusement Rides

Long title. Great song.

One of my pieces was critiqued in workshop on Monday. This was my first formal writing workshop ever, so naturally I was nervous. I was afraid they might just despise it. The part of my brain that hates me (I suspect everybody has one of those) told me that my writing was terrible, and that I had somehow been accepted into this highly competitive program through an utter fluke. Lulu reassured me that there was a bottle of wine waiting at home in case things went sour.

Fortunately, I loved having my piece critiqued. It was just what I needed. Aside from the part of my brain that hates me, I was fairly certain that the tone and voice of my piece were strong, but that it was lacking something in plot. Something vague that I just could not figure out. When I write flash fiction, it's usually just the story of a moment. Maybe a longer or more complicated story is implied, but it's rarely stated. Obviously, longer pieces can't be that way. It's sort of funny, because I usually hate stories that are big on description/atmosphere and minimal on plot. I don't want to write that way.

The workshop was great because everyone was able to zero in on what was missing. They also brought up aspects of my story that I never would have thought about--that the tone reminded them of a Norman Rockwell painting, for instance. Obviously there were several nitty-gritty sentence-level issues as well, inconsistencies in voice, and so on. I was expecting that. But I wasn't expecting to leave workshop so inspired--downtrodden and determined to do better next time, maybe, but not inspired. Thanks to my MFA comrades I now know exactly what I need to do to fix the story, which, as you might imagine, is a huge relief! Honestly, I can't wait to submit again. Of course, I have to finish this new piece I'm working on first.

After workshop there was celebratory drinking instead of sad drinking. We went to Stake Out because they have happy hour beer specials and they serve free hot dogs at halftime of Monday Night Football--a poor graduate student's dream scenario. 

What else is new? Tuesday night Zumba is terrible compared to Wednesday night Zumba in that it's far too easy. I had to add moves to make it harder. Teaching is fantastic, but I hate grading. Hate. It. Shaun's friend from Ireland is coming to visit tomorrow, so that should be delightful. Overall, things are going quite well. Until next time...

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