The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Request + Unwanted = Embraced

      This summer I am co-facilitating Gateway's Summer Institute. It's one of the National Writing Project sites (Gateway is at U. of Missouri-St. Louis) and is an intense graduate course. We meet for five weeks, four days a week, from 9-3:30. (It's a 6-credit class.)

       I love it.

     A couple of days ago, the other teacher (Nancy) and I demonstrated a way their writing response groups could critique each other's work. Nancy (who is white) shared a poem about the worries she has for her son. Her son has a friend who is black. She compared her concerns to the issues her son's friend's mother deals with. (Have I lost you yet?)

      I suggested she try writing it in the style of a two-voice poem. At that point, Nancy didn't want to completely overhaul her piece. She also simply might not have liked the suggestion I made, which was fine. It's her work, and her decision...

          However, after thinking about it, I was inspired to write a two-voice poem comparing the worries I have for my son with the worries a friend of mine has about her son. (Both of our boys are the same age, but her son was shot when an intruder came into his house. He is now a paraplegic.)

       So, even though Nancy requested some feedback, it was unwanted, but I embraced it and made it work for me.

       How do you deal with unwanted/unasked for advice?


Monday, June 9, 2014

Constructive Criticism

       I must have skin that's a mile thick. (Perhaps THAT is why I'm so fat. It's not the chocolate and the buttered bread and the mashed's my thick skin. Halleluiah!) I ask for suggestions on what to cut. I relish offerings from others on how to improve my writing. I appreciate honesty when it comes to writing critique.

      This past weekend I went on a writing project retreat. It was at my favorite monk-ery. I didn't necessarily get too much feedback from the group I was in, but I did get some valuable critique from the guest editor (Britton Gildersleeve...I know--what a name!) who comes every year to this retreat.

      What is the best writing advice you ever got?