The day opened with a great craft seminar by Jim McKean: Creative Research and the Art of Facts. The seminar was about research for non-fiction work, particularly memoir, but definitely was applicable to fiction. After describing the types of “archives” important to use–visual, living (interviews), electronic, audio, etc.–McKean provided specific examples from his own work to show how to use any or all of these archives to improve your non-fiction or fiction.
Then came the dreaded workshop. Truthfully, it didn’t go as badly as it had been built up to be, so that eased my concerns a lot. But, my work doesn’t get critiqued until Friday afternoon, so I’ve got the rest of the week to put myself in a state about it. But that’s me.
It’s been a long time since I let anyone mess with my head, especially a man. I mean, I’ve faced down FAA-hating airline captains without a blink, so why did I let my workshop instructor scare the hell out of me?
Probably because my writing defines me. It’s the only thing that is truly me–my voice, my characters, my worlds. And probably because even though people tell me I’m a good writer, I never think I’m quite good enough.
When someone of “authority,” i.e., the instructor, who is a writer of some renown, tells you the critique is going to hurt, then I have to wonder what the point of the critique is. I thought it was to give honest, constructive feedback, which I expected and don’t mind. Getting hurt is something I didn’t expect and do mind. Getting hurt will mean nothing that’s said will make an imprint because the abused child I was will be cowering inside my head begging Mommy not to hit me again.
Yes, he said his job is to shake us out of where we are now as writers and push us to the next level–that’s what I paid the goodly amount of money for–but telling us that we won’t sleep and our fingers will bleed by the end of the week makes me wonder if my trusty Jeep took a wayward trip to Gitmo.
He was right about one thing. I didn’t sleep last night.
I’ll update later after the first critique today (not mine)–provided my fingers aren’t bleeding.