Apr 3, 2006, 4:39 AM
Post #88 of 235
Re: [Clench Million] Grad school
Only the silly comment was targted at you (I thought quite openly), as a suggestion that we discuss the subject at hand not each other.Well, I'm with you there. And I am not fishing for a fight, though I do disagree with many of your points, and your overall demeanor chafes. It's entirely possible that I'm misconstruing your aims and/or words -- it is, after all, an internet message board.
Beyond that, line-by-line bickering seems tedious to me. I'll try to reply to some of your points on the topic.
Other people can critique work, and other people do -- both workshops and the cottage industry you so kindly informed me of, which I happen to work within. But they most certainly do not revise anybody's story for them. An author has to internalize the criticism, decide which (if any) she wants to address, and make the changes to her own story. Unless you were talking about ghostwriting, which is really another topic.
But I most strongly disagree with your assertion that writing near-perfect first drafts is a common (or anything better than rare) writing "style". Nothing in my relatively extensive experience supports that, and so I simply can't give it credence. Frankly, I think it's naive. Even if a writer is meticulous with her prose while writing a first draft, that doesn't necessarily have any bearing on the larger craft issues of plot or characterization, among others. It seems to me that such a writer would produce drafts that were superior on a line level only, and, further -- as is very common -- drafts in which the beginning was excellent and the end was rough.
I have absolutely never edited a story in a workshop. I understand that to mean line editing: correcting punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. I wouldn't waste my time with that. If they want it edited, they can pay a copy editor. I have made larger comments when I noticed consistent issues with the prose, though. But those were always brief.
On that note, I think a lot of the disagreement here has to do with terminology. Beyond the examples above, workshop has never inspired me to revise my own stories. It has given me valuable feedback that I later used in revision, but I don't think a writer should need inspiration for anything. It's nice, but it's not necessary. In the end, I think writers need to be self-motivated. I would revise my stories with or without workshop, and with or without inspiration. What I get out of workshop is exactly what I said before: I get the one thing I can't accurately gauge, which is an understanding of how it feels to pick up my story without ever having seen it and read it from beginning to end. Of course, that's an ideal -- I don't always actually get that.
To answer your question, I've never turned in a revised story to an entire graduate workshop. For two workshops, I had to hand in a revision to the professor at the end of the semester. I've only ever workshopped first drafts, because I didn't want to waste one of my 12-14 workshops on a piece that had already been through one. A few of my classmates have turned in the same story twice, but never (that I've seen) to the same workshop, in the same semester. I'm not saying that other people shouldn't, or that I would never do it -- only that I haven't.
(This post was edited by jstgerma on Apr 3, 2006, 4:42 AM)