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Jul. 20th, 2005 @ 10:48 pm revelations upon rereading my shorts from crwr120
  • The rough drafts are all far superior to the post-workshop revisions.
  • The ones that run far over the word limit are engaging; the ones that obey it are tedious.
  • The ones that try to be subtle and understated are artificially sentimental; the ones that I was worried were too melodramatic have genuine pathos.
  • The ones my professor liked are pretentious, overdone college-style dung. English majors call it literary masturbation; I call it form-fucking. Ahab's Wife by Sena J. Aslund is not the pinnacle to which I wish to aspire.
  • The ones both my professor and I hated are actually not so bad if you judge them on their own merits instead of comparing them to the work of fellow workshoppers or the Scribner Memorial Anthology for Victims of the Iowa System (which even the book jacket editor can only laud as "remarkable").
  • 70% of comments from other workshoppers were parroted straight from Madison Smart Bell's rubrics in Narrative Design, with nary an ounce of effort spent on reading it as an organic, unique work in progress instead of What Not to Do: Classic Textbook Example #53. To be fair, I unwittingly did the same on several occasions. I am deeply ashamed.
  • The ones I was seriously embarrassed with are still terrible, and my fellow workshoppers were spot on with their comments on those particular stories.
  • The ones I wrote outside of class are even worse.
  • Genre writing does not, in fact, suck--it is merely judged in the wrong context.

    Conclusion? Maybe I'll be a little less utterly crushed if I don't get into CRWR210 next year.

    Then again, maybe I'm cursing the grapes before they've gone sour.
  • About this Entry
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    Date:July 21st, 2005 12:27 am (UTC)
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    I agree that these are all amazing authors (Sherman Alexie excepted), and that's why they're among the fifty writers listed on the Amazon ad page. Indeed, if Scribner was a collection of only their stories, my opinion of the anthology would be much different. But Scribner contains shorts from over two hundred authors, and it's the other 150+ that bug me. Most of them are included because they won some local creative writing contest in college and never wrote another word of prose for the rest of their lives. A few of them, who I will not name, would have never made it in if they were not members of an underrepresented minority group.
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    Date:July 21st, 2005 05:26 am (UTC)
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    I am always amused by your accounts of creative writing workshop. Keep them coming!

    I tend to prefer genre writing, actually, because the best of those works play with conventions to surprise and delight. Patrick O'Brian, who took the 'Horatio Hornblower' fighting sail story and transformed it into a twenty-book human comedy, has been called one of the best novelists of the twentieth century. Jane Austen, whom you loathe, was writing in genre, as was...well, Shakespeare. :p

    That said, I've gained new appreciation for you authors after trying my hand at writing bad slash fiction. It really is hard to produce something that hasn't been done before, and I was just trying to avoid the gazillion slash plots already out there. Which is why I'm the budding biologist, and you're the comp-sci guy/writer in disguise. :)