I can have millions and millions of ideas hanging out in my head, having a big old kegger of a party, and the minute I sit down to actually write, all those damn ideas have drunk their fill and passed out for the night. Then sometimes I think I have nothing at all to say, and I pick up a pen, and something comes out. Not necessarily a good something, but a something.
I decided to take a creative writing class this year to try to even things out a bit -- actually, who am I kidding? I decided to take a writing class to actually make me sit down and write. As an angsty teenager/young adult, I wrote ALL THE TIME. Granted, it was all crap, but I produced mounds of it. Picture Danielle Steele as an angsty young adult poet, and that's about the volume (and quality) of stuff I could churn out. The less angsty, adult me is lucky to end up with one poem a year.
Last night was the first night that we actually "workshopped" in class, meaning we sat around and read our stuff and asked for criticism. I hadn't participated in such a thing since college, and had forgotten how unsatisfying it can be. When I am told my piece is good, I assume they just don't want to hurt my feelings, and when they criticize it, I assume they want to get smacked.
Just kidding about the smacking part. Sort of. I promise I won't smack anybody in this class. I mean, there's that one really annoying guy, but he's not in my workshopping group, so I'm pretty sure I can avoid smacking him. I'm almost positive.
Last night I read a poem I am working on -- I keep working on poems to avoid trying to start a novel -- and I kept asking them if it was just too syrupy sweet, and they kept saying no, and I kept thinking maybe they're wrong, and at the end of the night I'm still wondering if it's too syrupy sweet. I wish I could call my college poetry writing professor and ask her. She totally made me cry back then with her razor-sharp criticism, and I know she would tell me the truth.
She would also tell me that "razor-sharp criticism" is trite and overused. And I think she'd be right. I knew as I was typing "razor-sharp criticism" that it is trite and overused. Hell, I think I've probably used it before myself. But I just went right ahead and wrote "razor-sharp criticism" anyway because it's my blog and I don't care what she says. (If you read over this post, you'll find lots of such word choices. "Churn out," for instance. Really, there has got to be a better synonym for "produce" to use in this context, and if you can think of one, please let me know down there in the comments.)
But I honestly do want honest criticism. (See, now I'm wondering if using two variations of the word "honest" in that one short sentence is a nice, quirky construction or just a plain old annoying redundancy.) I want the kind of honest criticism that results in a big, fat book deal, hordes of adoring readers, and perhaps J.K. Rowling calling me up on occasion just to chat because we are both such popular and lauded writers that regular people just can't relate to us.
I don't think that's too much to ask, really. I paid my $99 for the class, so I deserve it.
Well. Actually, it was $75, because I got an alumni discount, and I didn't actually pay it, because it was a gift (thanks, Mom!), but still.