The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Back to School– Day 14

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The floodgates lifted yesterday, and I’m trying to stay on my feet amid the mad gush of motivation to work on two short stories, two poems, and this blog.  I’ve been tinkering with one of the short stories throughout the past two weeks, though, when I haven’t been working out, watching movies, playing NES Baseball Stars, scarfing too many desserts from dining service, staying up until 2AM, listening to professional writers read, listening to the inane introductions of said writers, reviewing the work of other writers, hanging out with neighbors and new friends, out late at bars off  Broadway, or sleeping.  So I guess I haven’t been working too much on that story.

What changed was that one of my stories was finally workshopped; I had to wait until the very last day of last session, but it happened.  It’s the same story about which I was serializing last winter (the serial lasted several episodes); the same one that just last week I said I had taken as far as I could.  I guess now I know how to take it further, so that’s what I’ve  been doing.  I just wrapped up draft #8, and there will be at least one more before I call it quits on the story.  I figure a year of working on it is probably enough.

I surprised myself with how wound up I was about having my piece workshopped.  I didn’t sleep too well the night before, and my stomach was queasy.  I even woke up early and went for a run on the track, but that didn’t have the intended effect.  The story is the longest, most detailed, most complex piece of fiction I’ve ever written, and as such I didn’t know how well I had accomplished all of it.  I wasn’t sure how well-sharpened my fiction tools were, or how far I’ve climbed up the fiction ladder in the last year and a half.  Being away from my midwest writing roots and nowhere near my normal writers group also figured into things.  I guess ultimately I was afraid that I was going to find out I hadn’t climbed as far up the fiction ladder as I thought.  I already mentioned that I thought I was situated at the median level of ability for my workshop, though after reading everybody else’s work, I thought throughout last week that I was in the lower echelon of ability.  The thing is that I’m not entirely sure when I have produced a decent piece of fiction.  I can feel it somewhat reliably with poetry, and I definitely know it with nonfiction; fiction eludes me.

It turns out that my fiction tools are sharper than I thought, and I’ve climbed the fiction ladder higher than I thought.  I met with my professor Friday morning, and she liked the story quite a bit.  We have talked extensively in class about how time is managed in fiction, and her feeling was that I had done an excellent job in that regard.  Honestly, that all came subconsciously.  I was focused on what I had to do to make the story flow logically.  I think I was helped, too, by the close attention I’ve paid to structure while creating the most successful pieces of nonfiction I’ve written.

I have great respect for the way the professor poured over my story (all of our stories, really) and gave me all she had.  When you’re dealing with someone who is that committed to craft, it’s contagious.  Now the challenge lies in taking what she considered to be a good story and turning it into what she believes could be a great story.  The collective feedback (her and my classmates) has given me a lot to think about, and that has provided me with a lot of motivation to take the story even further now that I can sense how to do that.

It ain’t all gravy, though.  Now that I feel like I have at least a decent fiction toolbox and I’m motivated, I’ll probably have to commit myself to fiction the same way I do to nonfiction and poetry.  That will probably mean more hours spent writing, which might mean less hours spent watching baseball or movies.  Life sucks.

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Written by seeker70

July 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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