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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Week Two of the Course

The second part of the short story writing course caused mixed feelings. I duly used the link provided to read a most excellent prize-winning and atmospheric story (cue "I could never write like that".) The writing exercises were completed too (not to be submitted at this stage, but filed away). I had submitted a draft of the first 800 words of a story, with the task being not to worry too much about editing at this stage, and submitted my feedback on the story openings buzzed over from the tutor.

Then - oh heck. Encouraging feedback from the tutor, with some aspects to consider including an unexpected change of point of view. Yes, I know, a common mistake. One of the students' feedback comments kindly mixed positive with problems and suggestions, and agreed in some places with the tutor's own opinion. The other feedback (almost as long as the original piece) piled comment upon comment about what didn't gel, what didn't make sense, what trips the reader up and so on, with the point-of-view comment only too incisive (and repeated).

It's a funny thing with writers. As a group we seem to lack confidence; even the most prolific and successful suffer. Which I guess is a spur to keep up standards or risk falling victim to failure. This review certainly knocked me for six. After all, it was supposed to be only a draft. Like most students I suppose, I found it hard to take such a wealth of criticism, wrote to the tutor saying maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew, and whinged to my family and my writing group. All-round reassurance followed, and given a few days to stop sulking, I have now listed from each critique the points which I accept and to which attention will be given in the next draft. Just as planned, no doubt!

So, on to week three, about which I'll write soon (getting a bit behind, but will catch up). As a psychologist who has run courses for teachers, I know all about negative/positive feedback, how students often feel after the initial flush of enthusiasm about a course, and how important it is to keep them on track and looking ahead with confidence. Physician, heal thyself and all that. And I shall.

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