Monday, October 08, 2012

Drama Bomb!

Working with other people's writing can be very touchy and sensitive, especially with people who are not used to rejection and criticism. I will admit to being this way when I was first began writing. To this day, no one has seen the manuscript of the first novel I ever started because I don't want to receive criticism on it because it is so close to my raw emotions and insecurities at that time in my life.
Since then I've taken several creative writing classes that required me to go buy some big girl panties and not take criticism so personally. Usually the first instinct when receiving feedback or criticism is to defend and explain away what you were trying to accomplish in the piece. In the creative writing classes I've taken so far at Weber, it has been heavily emphasized that when you get published, you will not be able to stand by each and every one of your readers and explain every detail you included. Therefore, during workshops, the workshopee is NOT allowed to talk at all while the class discusses what worked and did not work. 

I'll admit it was hard to abide by the rules at first. When you work on something with your whole heart and soul and throw it into the shark tank, it kills you to see your brain child, your baby, that piece of you that manifested itself on paper get torn to shreds. 

After doing this for several consecutive semesters, I've grown quite the skin and it's easier for me to weed out the good criticism from the bad. The only downside is, my sympathy gland has a nice thick layer of callous over it. When I see someone starting to get defensive or over emotional about something they've written I immediately think of Lumpy Space Princess:
I realize it is horrible of me, but as a writer, it is necessary to have that thick skin when trying to get things published because the writer's life is rejection after rejection after rejection. Every good writer has been told they are not good enough more times than they can count. It becomes pretty pointless to take criticism personally because it will only discourage you and prevent you from submitting or even  writing ever again.

I also realize that as a tutor, I need to find some way to kindly treat papers of students who are emotionally attached to what they are writing about. I haven't yet dealt with an example of this yet, but I am thinking the best way to deal with it would be to find unoffensive and gentle ways of suggesting a better way to say things. Or if the emotion is so overwhelming that nothing is getting done in the session, I would think it'd be best to end the session.

Overall, dealing with emotionally charged writing is a very tender work, and I'm hoping that my intuition will come through when I get one in a tutoring session. I won't be completely callous when it comes to emotions attached to writing, and when the time comes I'll do my best to find the best action possible to help the session be productive.


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