This post started as a simple question to a writing friend, but quickly turned into a novel of its own. If you read my blog, you know that I currently enrolled in a 14-week workshop at a college in my area. Before considering enrolling in any type of workshop, I wanted to do as much researched on writing as possible, I figured I could learn a lot on my own, and did. I bought books, checked books out at the public library, searched to the end of the Internet, and all were incredibly helpful. I learned a lot of the topics we are covering in class form these books, with the only difference that questions are asked and the answers are elaborated on a little more. I find however that aside from critiquing, which seems to play miserable tricks on your writing psyche by the way, I know a little more about what I have already read with regards to the “craft”.
Recently we started reading our work to the class and getting the much-needed critique; last class I got a question with regards to my character that bothered me more than it probably should and I have been mauling over it all weekend. Did I mention that I think workshops cause writer’s block? Why, well I will tell you why… because we concentrate so much on what will be said in class that we don’t concentrate on the writing itself. Anyway, I was asked if I wanted the reader to like my MC, my answer of course is yes she is the heroin I need you to like her. When I get questions like that I come home and begin the killing of my darling, I re-read my scenes and see that I might be taking my MC in the wrong direction. What kills me is that it’s usually the opinion of one person, everyone else either completely hates how or what I write or they don’t get it and have no clue what to say which is frustrating when in a class of 15 only one or 2 people speak up. Now let’s not get into the head nodding and sympathetic looking smiles and the dreaded “you know”, well, no I don’t know it’s why I am here! How effective is a vague critique? Speak up people I want your advice and opinion so I can fix it!
I should point out that I get very helpful critique from my teacher, but I thanks to the two that spoke up, I leave not feeling in any way pleased. I swear these workshops were created to bust the creative bubble I live in and my ego. It confuses me; I hate second-guessing myself and that is exactly what I do once I leave the class, in the 25 minutes it takes me to get home, all I think about is what and where to begin the changes to my WIP. There is no doubt in my mind that these work shop are indeed helpful, I just think I personally am not getting what I want from it, I like to think everyone goes to class every Wednesday with an open mind and fully aware that they might not read what I write and vice versa, but respect the work anyway. But, isn’t there always a but? I enjoy the realization that I am in a room with my peers, with writers who pour their heart and soul into their work as much if not more than I do.
Tell me, have you ever enrolled in a writing course or workshop? What was your experience like? Are there questions I should be asking?