Tuesday, November 24, 2009

writing class: wherein my heart is flayed

Last Wednesday I shared the first 3 pages of my WIP with my writing class. This was a first for me. I wanted to throw up and cry at the same time. I have never been more embarrassed in my life. And I want to rewrite every word as I heard them reading it out loud. My teacher—who I happen to believe is very wise—basically told me that my story is schizophrenic: adult, YA, and middle grade all at once. I agree. He thinks I should focus on making it only middle grade. On this point I still disagree. We'll see.

I knew the story was starting in the wrong place. Who wants to read about someone laying in bed trying to sleep? Not me, not my writing class, and probably not anyone else. At least I have an idea about where the story needs to start now.

And, I am NOT READY to share any more writing in my class for a awhile. Still in the "closed door" phase, I think. Need much, much more practice.

So do you want to know what my writing class said about my first 3 pages? Here you go:

Too much detail for my liking. Takes too long for the story to move.

Not enough detail: I have no idea what is going on.

She acts younger than 17. (noted EIGHT times in the 3 page critique [and yes, I totally agree])

Need a better name for the beach. (The name: Xene Beach. Do you think I need a better name? What does that mean, better? Easier to pronounce? This comment has been haunting me.)

Is Bloom Day a celebration for a girl getting her period? (Note to self: change the name of this day immediately. Tell no one about this. Ever.)

You have down-right lovely sentences. You really are a talented writer. Your writing makes me smile. (This from someone who was 100% complimentary. I think I'll leave her something in my will.)

It's very Goose Girl. (This, I think, was said as a negative critique, but was the only thing that I heard in class that actually didn't make me want to dig my own grave right there in my chair. It's actually the best compliment I've ever gotten for my writing. I wish my class read more kid lit.)


  1. I actually like the name Xene Beach. I think there are too many ordinary names in literature. Why wouldn't Xene be okay? Don't let that comment haunt you.

  2. sorry to hear your heart was flayed, but atleast you had the courage to DO IT. everything i've ever read that you've written i've loved. and not just because you're my sister and i think you're awesome already.

    also, aren't you a little numb to critiques after going through design school? if there's one thing i gained from my education, it was not to cry when criticized about my work.

    i don't have a problem with xene beach. it sounds pretty sci-fi.

    keep writing!

  3. Just remember that it's impossible to keep everyone happy. Fix things to the point that you like it and go from there!
    And what's wrong with Xene beach? I like it.

  4. jenni:i picked xene because it is greek for foreigner (and significant therefore to my story). i don't know why it's not okay. maybe it seems too strange. although, this is a medieval fantasy. i can't name it oceanside or carlsbad...

    angela: you would think that i would be immune to all kinds of critiques. but no. if someone tells me they hate something i've designed, it doesn't faze me at all. writing seems so much more personal to me. it was a lot harder than i thought it would be to listen to those critiques. like having an ugly child and listening to someone tell you the reasons he is ugly.

    kayla: great advice! the man who gave me conflicting advice is writing lds vampire romance, so maybe we don't have the same literary tastes. just sayin'.

  5. I'm so sorry that happened to you! I hope it goes better next time. I love Goose Girl! Xene Beach is easy to pronounce. What was Bloom Day?

  6. Could I bribe you to let me read it? Maybe I'll just sneak into your writing class :). The critique, ugh I dont know if I'd ever dare. I think thats a huge hurdle even if you dont think you'll do it again anytime soon. I think you are made of awesome. The end.

  7. don't sign me up for that class. I would cry my eyes out. I'm not fond of critics. I once did a bad observation and my principal was giving me some pointers. I starting crying. How embarrassing is that? Crying in front of the boss. Then I had to walk back out of her office and to my classroom with red swollen eyes. One of my finer moments.

  8. - not that I've read it, but don't you think some people are giving criticism just to have something to say?
    - you're not supposed to know what's going on in the beginning of a really good book. Books that spell out everything are really stupid written for stupid people.
    - Xene is so awesome.
    - Goose Girl is awesome.
    - We will all promise to tell no one about Bloom Day, some kind of milestone day, like starting your period.

  9. Sheesh. My ego couldn't handle a class like that, especially right now. But since you've been subjected to it already, I'll answer your questions for you. Man, I'm nice.

    I like the name Xene Beach. If you can't pronounce it, maybe you should read Judy Blume.

    Bloom Day. Ha ha.

    Goose Girl? I loved that book so if you create something similar, I bet it would be awesome.

  10. Jana: Bloom Day was the day my main character was supposed to be officially elligible to be betrothed.

    Debbie: yes, I believe I would except a bribe. Any kind of chocolate covered See's caramels would do it.

    Kathryn (iheartmesa): That is an awesome story. I cried once when my boss told me I couldn't eat at my computer. I was pregnant, so that's the excuse I'm sticking with.

    Melanie: YES! I think some people comment just to have something to say. And you're awesome.

    Anna (him, her & the wee one): You have by far a bigger ego than I do. You should totally do a writing class so it could be crushed down to my size. Wouldn't that be fun?

  11. Wow, way to put yourself out there and get stomped on. Sorry it didn't go so well. You'll work it out though. Just try to figure out which "constructive criticism" is worthy of changing in your story. Good luck with your hurt. I'm sure it doesn't feel good right now.