Thursday, May 31, 2007

My mom sent me an email a while ago, asking how my critique went. So...

So, I'm in this class, see, and it's on writing fiction, and it's compressed, see, so it feels like we're handing things in all the time, hand-over-fist. But really, we've only handed two things in, and that's not so much until you consider that, for crying out loud, it's not even June yet.

So, we've handed in two short stories to date, and in my personal opinion, there's NOTHING more difficult than writing a short story. Unless it's having a short story critiqued.

See, we're put in groups of 5, and then we each print off enough copies of our own story for everyone else in the group, and then we all go home and break out our red pens, and read them, and make comments. That part is fun. The reading of other people's stories, the peek into other people's brains, the realization that I am a much better writer than some of these people, and somehow that matters.

But THEN we come back to class, and we get into our groups, and we share. We share what we liked, what we didn't like, what worked, what confused us. We say 'you shifted tenses here' and 'this sentence was awkward' and 'when I first read this, I thought it meant this.' We say all these things, and we try to be kind, because our turn is coming up, but we also try to be constructive, because this is why we are here, right? To learn?

But it's stressful. It's stressful to have people say unflattering things about something you've spent hours on. It's stressful to have people not get your vision, and have to gently explain to them that what they're suggesting you amend it to isn't in fact what you want to say, without sounding defensive. It's stressful to have the prof sit in on your discussions, and to be judged not only on your work, but on your criticism of others' work.

And THEN you get your second story back, a story which you kind of loved and which tickled you when you realized how it was going to end, and it's a full letter grade lower than your first story, which you hated.

And THEN you realize that the only thing more difficult than having a short story critiqued is revising a short story, because it's like trying to decide which parts of a child you like best, and hacking off the other parts, and then trying to rebuild a new child, but at least NOW you get to revise the one you love, instead of the one you wish you'd never written.

THAT'S how my critique went.


Jane said...

How could that second one have been a full letter grade lower? Is your prof on crack? I loved that story.

Hannah said...

It brings back such memories of my college years. Imagine having the entire class of 15 critiquing - that's how my writing classes were. Makes me want to write something :)

Rebekah said...

The thing about being a genius is that no one will ever fully understand you. But I still love you, my grammar slug.