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My first semester at Stonecoast is about halfway over. The last few months have been pretty difficult, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I have read more books than ever because I've switched to commuting to work by train. What a difference that has made on my study time!

I've also submitted several annotations and two stories to my mentor, and I've just received his comments on my September packet. Clearly, I still have things to work on (which is why I'm here), but I see a shift in his comments. He's no longer focusing on the predictability of my characters and the flatness of my stories. There is improvement! Yeah!

The feedback that I received this month was much more engaging than what I received on my previous stories. My mentor was able to comment on the complexity of the characters and layers of the plot rather than just focusing on story mechanics. As a result of his evolving feedback, I'm struck by the notion that the best way to see your improvement is through the criticism that you receive, and I'm definitely starting to see a change in the type of comments that I receive on my work. This is very exciting stuff! This is exactly why I enrolled in the Stonecoast MFA program.

The month of October is going to be a killer with 3 stories due in early November. I'm really going to have to kick into high gear to get my pieces ready, but I have this nagging fear that I'm going to be submitting 1st or 2nd draft work for the January workshop.

This raises the question of how polished do you make your work before sending it to a workshop? If you polish a story to the point of gleaming, is it worth workshopping? Is it better to workshop a story that has problems so that you get some new perspectives on potential fixes? I'm not sure what the best solution is on this front. Does it really matter as long as the prose is readable and your critiquers won't be distracted by annoying line editing issues. What do you think?
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posted by [personal profile] e_underwood at 08:37am on 17/08/2007 under , , ,
How did this happen? I'm utterly exhausted. I think I could sleep a week away and I'd still be tired. Argh! I need more time in the day, which means I can't waste what I have sleeping, but that's exactly what I've been doing all week.

In any case, I've just finished my final revision of "Give and Take" and sent it off to F&SF. We'll see how that goes. It's a bit darker than their usual fare, but it seems like it would still be a good fit if they like it. This is one of the stories that I workshopped at Stonecoast and I received some great feedback. Learning how to incorporate workshop feedback is an interesting process. You can't take it all. So what do you take? This is a difficult question, especially when the feedback you receive is from someone you highly respect.

I think the only solution is to find what resonates most with what you're trying to do with the story. So, I took their advice and ruthlessly cut some of my favorite stuff, added in some new prose, and left a few items that I felt needed to remain. I'm really curious to see how others react to the story. Hopefully, this story is an improvement. I feel like it's better, but sometimes it's just too difficult to judge "level of improvement" for myself.

On the reading front, I've just finished Jurassic Park, which was a heck of a lot of fun to read! Now, I'm starting on Alice in Wonderland. I've got the Penguin edition, which has an introduction by Hugh Haughton. The introduction has blown my mind. I wish I could say more, but I won't until after I've read the book completely. I love good books with scholarly introductions!

Yikes! It's 9:05! I better get to work. Have a great day everyone.
Mood:: 'tired' tired


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