Back on Thursday I submitted my final project to the class. It will get workshopped this Thursday. I grow more nervous about this by the day. Allow me to bullet-point a list of my concerns.
- My piece is really long: 24 pages. The longest piece this semester. The next two longest pieces were 18 pages (as prior mentioned) and 16 pages (remember that one?). After these three pieces, the other eight submissions we’ve done so far have averaged about 11 pages. What’s crazy is that this could’ve been 35 pages; the scene is planned, and with another weekend, it would be finished. So I’ve submitted the longest piece, which means there’ll be more to talk about, which means there’ll be more for somebody in class to hate on.
- Technical language, oh baby, does my piece have it. And there’s a lady in the class who, oh baby, made absolutely clear she hates hates hates any story where she’s got to go to the internet to look up any unknown words. Which flabbergasts me because this is a major writing program we’re a part of so who the hell feels like that and is willing to casually admit that to sixteen other people? So my teeth are already grinding for when she complains about when I describe how lucky one character is by saying he has a “queer innate ability to skew the probability densities in his favor, to exist in an electron shell of pure quantum luck.”
- I don’t trust myself to evaluate my peers’ works anymore, and by that measure my own work. When I don’t like a piece, it’s easy for me to tear it apart. But last week I really liked two pieces, and so I couldn’t find much that I felt needed improvement. But once we got to class, everyone else found a million things to take apart. And the piece I thought was bad turned out to be a lot of my classmates’ favorite. Okay, so we all have different tastes. But my piece is written to my taste, and by some mathematical law of workshopping, that means nobody else will like my piece.
- Which is why I’ve been thinking of every criticism that’s been leveled about other pieces so far and working out how my own piece addresses each of those criticisms. Not in a way that might lead to better writing–because so many of the criticisms given this semester are often contradictory–but in a way that I might more easily defend the work. Which I won’t be allowed to do while the piece is being evaluated; I’ll be sitting in a “cone of silence” while the other students tell me what they think.
Now, there’ll be someone who’ll say, “Fuller, why care what the haters say?” Those people miss the point of workshop. Then there’ll be someone who’ll say, “But Fuller, you can’t please everyone.” To those people I’ll say you didn’t read about why I’m doing this. Also, I’m still human, and nobody likes having someone else come along and say they don’t care for something you’ve spent considerable time creating, something that you’ve taken a chance on by putting word to paper.
Not to turn this post into a therapy session, but these are my concerns. I think I genuinely know how the soft people in The Gut Grinder feel now.