I began a writing class this spring at the urging of my friend Sue Gelber. You see, several years ago I wrote a middle-grade manuscript. I wrote, edited, revised and cried over it. My writer’s group thoughtfully critiqued it and provided me with more insight and more contradictions than I thought possible. Writing is subjective. Or, as I like to say, one woman’s Jane Austen is another woman’s Stephanie Meyer. You can ask ten different people to read the same chapter, and I guarantee you, you will get at least eleven different responses. Needless to say, this got a little daunting.
Although my manuscript was safely nestled in a desk drawer for two years, the characters dance in my head all the time. I could only go so far in the day before I would be reminded that I wrote a 140 page novel, submitted it to editors, intended to revise it according to said editors suggestions. I am not one to talk the talk. I truly live my life by trying to walk the walk. I did write my great piece of American fiction…I just didn’t know how to revise it.
As a pseudo New Year’s resolution, I decided to bring it out and see if it read well two years later, and it does. So I had my friend Sue read it, and she insisted I take a workshop class at Story Studio that was opening up a new suburban location. Of course, Sue would be taking this class as well and after listening to her enthusiastically describe her own writing progress and the cool people she met, I couldn’t NOT sign up.
It’s been a great class. Kate Ancell, the writer-teacher extraordinaire not only teaches writing as a craft, but is a terrific editor in workshopping individual pieces. Plus, she’s very funny. The women who take the class all bring their A-game as well.
What happened today was the epiphany I’ve been waiting for for two years. Two years ago, I had an excellent critique done by my writing friend LJ Metz and today, Kate made almost the same critique. The difference is today I understand what I need to do, and two years ago, I didn’t have a clue.
I think sometimes you need space from your writing. I certainly did. Sometimes, it gets so personal you can’t see beyond the experiences and words on the paper. But other people can, and that’s the value of a good critique group. So thank you to Sue, LJ, and Kate for pulling me out of my writing funk and forcing me to type!