May 26, 2006, 11:10 PM
Post #21 of 175
Boy did I waste an hour typing up a super insightful post, complete with exciting anecdotes, only to have it erased!
Re: [HopperFu] Self-confidence and writing
I'll have to settle for the gutted version:
Rapunzel, it's toxic to assume that, because an accomplished teacher/novelist may write in a different style, they don't understand your work. Your advisor was not mystified by your beautiful Nabokovian style, like some Inca blinking at Cortez's boom-boom sticks for the first time. More likely, she passed you along because you didn't heed or even appreciate her efforts.
How can you trust a swift maturation if constant praise is the only possibility? (Answer: you can't).
Pointing out flat characters isn't an indictment of your ability, let alone your entire being. Geez, can you imagine if everyone in workshop shared your attitude? I'm better than all these retards, who might as well just quit, but please don't question my plot because that means you hate me as a person! Furthermore, I am not a bad person, I write like Nabokov and you wouldn't admit Lolita if she applied here, so bugger off! Seriously, would you want to share work with that person?
Here's something that helped me out a couple of years ago. Join the listserve, chat room, or e-mail discussion group of some of your favorite complex and long-sentenced authors. These will hopefully include people much older and wiser than you--accomplished scientists, journalists, semioticians, and the like. Read their work (some will be scribblers and inevitably want to share). It'll be much easier to sort out the shortcomings in their work, rather than your own. Hi-light everything bad, amateurish and laughable. Distinguish Author X -inspired prose from the barely disguised imitations. Dwell on the differences. Note why the fan work doesn't ulitmately stack up to Author X's work (chances are, no matter how language obsessed or postmodern the author, it may just boil down to workshoppy things--plot, round characters, etc.). Now go back and read your own work with these things in mind. Chances are you'll see it in a new light. I did this, a year after I turned in some superficial revisions to a teacher who just didn't get where I was coming from, and improved my work substantially. It helped me more than any workshop, and it also changed the way I view criticism from those short sentenced, character obsessed teachers and peers. Who would've thunk it?
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