So I’m workshopping short stories this week. I love workshops. I love the energy, the creative flow, the fresh perspectives you get from throwing writers together and saying “Go!”
The problem, you ask?
I’m kind of a horrible person.
You see, nice, ordinary people would read the stories and say “Wow! You made a thing! All by yourself! Out of the air! That’s like the coolest thing since the wheel!”
I, on the other hand, am screaming into a pillow.
What would I like to say about the stories?
Rubbish. It’s rubbish.
(A moment of silence here as we all fully appreciate why I blog under a pseudonym)
Do I say that? No. Of course not. Because I know what it’s like to put your creative work forward, how vulnerable and tender you feel, second, third, and fourth-guessing yourself at every gentle criticism.
There is no place for someone like me to say what I’m thinking.
Hence the internal tension. I’m trying not to flinch if I see a verb tense error I’m not supposed to be correcting.
Why am I such a jerk?
Because at the heart of it all, I just want the stories to be better. It’s because I know what good writing is, I’ve tasted its bliss like Greek ambrosia–and it’s not that difficult to reach. Just sit down at a typewriter and bleed (yes, thank you, Mr. Hemingway. You can go now). Everyone has stories inside of them. It’s just a matter of letting them out, polishing them until they gleam. It can be done. I can do it. Anyone can.
So what I really want to say when I sit down to workshop a story?
“It’s rubbish. Really, it’s total rubbish. But we can make it spectacular. It might be boring as a rock, but even rocks can have the blazing brilliance of a comet.”
Yeah. That’s what I want to say.
…except for the stories that blatantly haven’t been edited or proofread…at all. Those I’m back to screaming into a pillow about.
Need an intense alpha reader, anyone?