So every several months I think of my different writing workshops, what I’ve gained, friends I’ve made, others who have vanished after half a session…The whole shebang. For the most part I’ve been great with taking criticism, critiquing others (I think), and making sure that even if what I’m reading is garbage, I can give the writer some sort of positive takeaway. That’s the way it works.
Then there was Flight. I’m giggling just thinking about it, because I don’t think I take myself too seriously and my experience is one writers, or anyone who thinks they’re just killing it, goes through.
I thought this one out. Did a proper first draft and all. Short story shorter, a college-age teen is off to visit her divorced dad in another state and is stopped at airport security. Turns out a prized keepsake is on the Prohibited Items list and, refusing to give it up, she doesn’t board the plane. Turns out mom waited outside, expecting this change in plans.
Having gotten wildly good feedback on my last effort, I was vaguely sure this would go over as well. (btw, I still keep all my typed & handwritten comments from colleagues in a special box; I keep saying I’d like to type it all out one day when really, seeing the mode of communication and personal handwriting is what pulls me back, pleasantly, in time.)
This is where I start chuckling. After a week, I sauntered into this living room like, boom, where’s my deal? Where’s U Iowa begging me to lecture? What’s up? I downplayed this because no one likes an arrogant person & it’s not really in my nature, but I felt I was in a zone.
“And now, I’d like Nira’s primary reader to begin a synopsis of her work.”
This is where the smugness started to melt away. Kindly, politely, and with absolute concrete examples and conscious criticism, my fellow workshoppers began to detail how awful this story was. It was the voice, their tone of voice that did it; it was the tone I’d given a teen kid once who’d brought in a story about killer clowns in the suburbs and was never heard from again.