I had a wonderful opportunity to be broken down this week. I attended a writing workshop at the college where I work. One of the creative writing instructors invited in writer, Vu Tran, author of the newly-released Dragonfish (another book that’s been added to my TBR list). Tran read the stories of the four of us who attended the workshop and gave us helpful comments about how we could fix the short stories we’d submitted in advance of the workshop.
The experience reminded me how valuable it is to belong to a writing group. It’s really helpful to have someone read and offer comments for making your writing better. As an English and Developmental Writing teacher, I do this often for my students. But it’s been a while since it happened to me. I would like to have a small group of dedicated writers in the area that I could work with.
I have to admit though that, immediately following the workshop, I was disappointed. Tran didn’t read my story and gush about what a wonderful writer I was like I’d imagined he would. Instead, he offered constructive criticism. But I haven’t heard constructive criticism in a while. It’s been several years since I’ve been workshopped. So, I left feeling dejected. I missed the positive things he said. I mean it. I literally missed the positive words because I was lost in the feeling of dejectedness. Luckily, he handed out typewritten copies of his comments. So, I have the opportunity to read, “A very intriguing portrait of a woman so heartbroken over her son’s death that she’s now gone crazy…”
I can’t allow myself to get hung up on the positive feedback I received though because I want to be better. And by better, I mean, to so immerse the reader in my main character’s mind that they feel like they’re going crazy with her. This was one of the things I got the opportunity to discuss with Tran and the other writers who were present that day. This, I believe, is a true test of a writer. Will I be the type of writer who can take criticism and use it to make my work better or the one who takes criticism and allows it to cause me to simply shut down. All artists are doubtful of their talent. It’s the nature of the beast. But I’m going to choose to make my story better. Because, hey, when a New York Times bestselling novelist tells you how to make your story better, you’d be a fool not to take his advice. And, I’m no fool. So, today has been set aside for me to use those helpful comments to revise “Time Keeper of Insanity.”
And here’s my poem for the day:
The trees sway and the stars shine
but they do not heed my voice.
My soul cries out to the universe
but my unspoken words fall back to earth,
rain that helps to shake loose the leaves
from their trees.
Trees lose their leaves in the fall,
choosing to defy the most natural state
of not changing, a place
where all things remain the same.
They do not own fears,
tremulously holding onto leaves
that have already started to die.
Because they are willing to let go
the ground becomes a palette,
a painting expressed with
beautiful fallen leaves.
A pile of fallen leaves
is a place where children
can fall and feel safe and free
their light-hearted laughter
rising to the surface of the soul
to eventually be scattered to the wind
with all those fallen leaves.
Peace & Love,