I did not intend to take the class that I’m taking this semester. The class that I wanted to take was incompatible with my work situation. And so, I find myself taking a fiction workshop class, the third such I have taken in this quest to learn how to write better. The first two were in the first year of this experiment. This is the fifth and final year.
Why would I not want to take a workshop class on fiction? It isn’t just that the ones I took years ago didn’t seem to do much for my writing. It isn’t just that I had this instructor before and was not thrilled with the prior performance. The main reason is that I don’t believe in the process.
In this class, revision is expected. Not just, write a story, submit for workshopping and then revise. No, revision is seen as an essential part of the process of writing – write a bit, revise a bit, write some more, revise some more. And I think that however well that might work for some people, it isn’t how I operate.
I’ve, perhaps, been reading too much of Dean Wesley Smith’s blog. He encourages allowing your creative voice to tell the story. Write the story once and don’t revise. To him, revision destroys what makes your story original and interesting. Polishing a manuscript takes away all of its sharp edges – those points that might catch the interest of a reader or an editor (aka the people who can buy your story).
And even before I was contaminated by that particular point of view, I didn’t take to the process of revision. Once I’ve written a piece and checked for typos, I have a hard time revisiting it. But, I also have a hard time getting it out to the public. Part of that comes from not being able to sell the short stories that I write, and part is fear. It’s a bit of a loop. I can’t sell any stories so I don’t want to send any out.
But now I’ve made a promise. I’m going to be writing a story, a literary story, if you please. And I’m going to be sharing it with other aspiring writers, opening my words and opinions to their critiques. A revision will be due.
Why then, did I take this class?
Because even though I don’t want to work the way this class expects me to work, I think it will be a useful exercise. I will figure out what to do by keeping myself aware of what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to insert meaning with my inner critic. I’m going to let myself play with a story, and see what happens.