A Thousand Words A Day

A writing journal _____________________________ PROFESSORBLOG@HOTMAIL.COM

writing: _ Christian Writers _ _ NaNo _

reading: _LibraryThing_ _ BookCrossing _ _ My local library _ _ Another nearby library _

blogs: _ Lorie Rees_ _Itinerant Iconoclast_ _ Rita's Ravings _
My Photo
Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Reader, writer, podcast listener, and TV watcher. And real nice guy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Hey, the Na No Wri Mo group is doing some work. There have been some crits posted on the site, even one of a story that I wrote. And I did a crit on another work. So I will speak about both of those experiences here. Amy posted a crit of my Cockburn story to our site. This was the story about Bryce Burns, who is trying to live the great Bruce Cockburn song, "Child of the Wind." It is a great song, it is a terrific song, it is the one osng that I pretty much refer to as "my song." It sums up some of my own feelings and thougts, and is one of my "theme songs." The song goes (this is off the top of my head, not the official lyrics, so take that for what it is worth, which may or may not be much: I love the pounding of hooves, I love engines that roar, I love the wild music of waves on the shore. And the spiral perfection of the hawk as it soars I love my sweet woman down to the core. There roads and there roads and they call, can't you hear it, roads of the world and roads of the spirit. The best roads of all are the ones that aren't certain. One of those is where you'll find me till they drop the big curtain. Hear the wind moan on the bright diamond sky, these mountains are waiting, green, brown, and dry. I am too old for the term, but I'll use it anyway . . . I'll be a child of the wind till the end of my days . . . " It is very possible that I left out a few words, as a matter of fact I am pretty sure that I left out an entire verse. Anyway, Amy did a crit on this work and pionted out some interesting things. I knew that this was a short piece, almost a full page . . . single spaced . . . but still almost a full page. And not any more. Basically, I had Bryce Burns (my combo of Bruce Cockburn and myself) looking out over an expanse of Canadian land, reflecting on his life and the struggles that he has had and the resolution he has found in his love and his life and his faith. So what Amy pointed out was that this was not exactly a story. A story is of course supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. She pointed out that htis was just an ending. An interersting crit, actually. Given the fact that some people have trouble writing endings, and that some stories just osmetimes peter out . . . at least I did not do that. I did a little better than that, in that I at least wrote the hardest part, the ending! She encouraged me to write the beginning and the middle, in order to find the back story behind the resolution. What was the struggle, what was overcome, which of those roads of the earth did he actually walk down, and what were the results of that? So there is certainly stuff there, but I do not think that I am going to re visit that particular story. It was just practice, and if she found nothing more fundamental than that, I am satisfied. And I certainyl appreciate the crit.

I then returned the favor and wrote a crit of one of her stories, based on a Norah Jones song. I had never heard the song, and I had not read a previous version of this story that she had posted before, but nonetheless I took a whack at it. This is one of the skills I am looking to develop, the ability to rightly critique and pull out needs in other people's writing. I need to revise my own writing, which I have never done before, so I need to figure out how other people can better revise their work. This is a skill that I need to get, so I appreciate my Na No Wri Mo group comrades being guinea pigs for me test out me nascent skills on. What I wrote back to her was that I thought I understood the motivations of her characters, which was pretty much what she was looking for. I do not quite know how to crit well, whether we are looking at line edits . . . .i.e., my basic type fo work that I do when I am grading papers . . . or overall crits or guided crits, which was what Amy was specifically asking for. I like the nice feel of this group, and that the folks in it are not being tough and not being nasty, which I understand is not uncommon for writing groups. These folks had some bad experiences in previous writing groups, and wanted to get away from that type of history in this new gorup, so they may be not willing to crit too harshly on the grounds that they have seen that go horribly awry in the pasty. That is okay, we do not know each other well yet, so we do need to gain a level of confidence with each other before we start going too hard ball on each other. I should say, on each other's work. That has probably been the problem in the past. You are to crit the person's work, not the person. This is what people are supposed to do, but maybe has not been the past history of some of these folks. So I guess that some of these people in the group are a little bit on the gun shy side about both giving and receiving criticism, which is understandable. So I need to model good crits, and model a good positive attitude about receiving crits. Is this one of those cases where it is better to give than to receive?


Post a Comment

<< Home