Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 110: After all is said and done...there is more to say.

The writing workshop wasn’t exactly what I had thought it would be. I had hoped for more theory on 'personal essay' writing from someone with experience in the industry.  And at least one in-class assignment of writing a story from memory… I didn’t expect it to be a one-by-one ‘feedback only’ class on the emailed written submissions. Attendees consisted of published authors, journalists, teachers, intellectuals, and a few beginners. A very odd bunch to mix together. As some read their stories, and others critiqued them, I sensed quite quickly that my ‘work’ was not going to go over well with this literary bunch.
It felt like McGill University all over again. I had, until now, blocked out the nightmare of haughtiness that greeted me as a first year student majoring in the (challenging) English Literature program and the one teacher who particularly stabbed at my confidence with a simply stated sentence: “Your writing is not up to McGill standards. It's quite poor.”With those lovely words (retrieved from memory) dangling overhead, I read my submissions to the class today.  I was instantly labeled a ‘blogger’ and not really taken seriously.  But that being said, I got some comments on what style was preferred, and how I should step back for clarity of thought and explore what I am trying to say.  One person commented that it felt “artless, and without much point”. That hurt my pride a bit. But I had to tell myself I was here to improve and not to be gutted like market trout.  I was going to take all comments constructively.
I am glad I experienced this workshop at this point of my 365 Attempt experiment.  Writing everyday is good practice, but today taught me that if I would like to take this seriously, I need to write more than the short posts I bang out here daily. I still need to find my niche.  I still need to figure out what I want to write about and the style of narrative to express it.  BUT, the difference now is that I am not scared to attempt. And that's something.


  1. I like the way you've used this experience to gain insights. Personally, it's taken me awhile to learn how not to be overly sensitive to criticism - whether constructive or otherwise.

    Great post!

  2. balls, that's what you've got. good for you for following through with it!

    take what feels true of their comments (don't make it about pride, make it about getting better at what you love to do - that's why you signed up for this workshop in the first place, right?) and disregard the rest(everyone's got an opinion). your job is to do what feels right for you, not for anyone else :)

  3. It sounds to me like you've got the right mindset. That professor at McGill sounds heartless. Words like that stay with us a long time. I'm glad you're looking beyond that after this writing workshop.

  4. I've learned 2 things about writing. 1, keep writing, no matter what anybody says. And 2, never listen to any criticism about your work that is not constructive. You're doing amazing work and you're reaching people. That is the #1 most important thing.

  5. True, popping out random posts every day on a blog won't get you to that prestigious place of your "serious for real writer". but do you know what your everyday posts make me think? I think, "If this is what she can do on a daily basis, then I wonder what masterpiece would come out if she spent true time on it!".