It’s been a long time since I revisited this site. I changed the appearance, removed some content, edited some other content… and then disappeared again.
Here’s what I’ve been up to these past few (ha) months:
- Gotten a job
- Moved to a new town
- Lost a job (curse you, layoffs!)
- Joined a fiction workshop
- Made new, talented writer friends
- Written a bunch of short fiction
- Gotten a ton of occasionally ego-bruising critique
- Become a much better writer
Overall, an absence (mostly) well spent. Seriously. I cannot possibly understate the value of a regular workshop. Especially one in which people are in many ways more talented than you. The Philadelphia area is lucky enough to be home to quite a few writing groups of varying quality, membership, and organization. There’s the one full of published authors who like to sit around a table and talk business. There’s the really big one with the annual membership fee, occasional workshops and a bunch of guest speakers. And then there’s mine. Free, at my local library, and best of all, All Critique All The Time.
One of the things I’ve learned about my own writing, over the course of the past few years, is how much less I know about it than I once credited myself. I’ve written before (though not here) about the process of realizing my ineptitude tearing myself down, and learning to write well for myself as a once-again-beginner. For me, at that time in my life, that humility was something I deeply, desperately needed (even if, it might be argued, my self esteem really DIDN’T need it). Taking my ego out of the process, viewing myself as someone with something to learn, helped get me started. What I didn’t realize I didn’t know? How to revise.
Revision is something I never truly saw to the end before recently. I always saw it as maybe two or three passes max, cleaning up a story that is, for the most part, already done. I never truly appreciated the amount of work that goes into doing it right. Slogging through your seventh pass, rewriting entire sections, only to send it out for crit and find out you’re STILL not finished. I never realized how little of being a talented writer is, well, talent, and how much of it is sheer, bloody-minded persistence. This is something I never would have learned without my workshop group. Without having torn everything down to start over, killing my ego, and viewing myself as a beginner, I never would have had the nerve to take harsh criticism, digest it, and then make the huge, sweeping changes that really count.
So, thank you, writer friends! Thank you for telling me the truth, even when it sounded like the Worst Thing Ever. And thank you for listening to my late night despair, reminding me that all is not lost despite the Sisyphean task ahead of me.
If anyone reads this, I implore you: get a workshop group of your own, with a blend of talents and a wealth of ambition. Get a group that will knock you down a few pegs when you really need it, and who can also cheer you on and prop you up.