Just finished another great writing class with Ms. X, an instructor at Grub Street in Boston. It’s the fourth ‘session’ I’ve taken with her and her revolving stable of novelists, all of whom are at a similar level with their writing. Well, I only hope I’m at their level. Regardless, we are all working on novels in various stages of done-ness.
For the first three sessions, I workshopped my second novel, A Little Disappeared. It was 80%-85% finished when I bucked up and showed it to Ms. X and her class. (Now it's finished and I'm trying to land an agent.)
For the latest session, I brought in the first 120 pages of a new novel I started earlier this year. This new thing, well, it’s still damp. It was harrowing to show it to a roomful of great writers, baring myself writing-wise, letting it all flap in those chilly, atmospheric Grub Street hallways. After I finally let go my ego and squelched my stage fright and fear of rejection, the class critiqued it.
They gave it a decent scrubbing; unfolding it for structure problems, refolding to show character development flaws, mulling over the controversial subject matter, then spinning out idea after idea for the second draft. For a story that I was struggling to find (its way and footing long lost) it was an invaluable undertaking.
Now, post-class, I’m still writing the first draft. A test really, because most of this initial draft will be pruned or pulled up, then replanted and cultivated. But my characters, the current version of them, want to keep breathing, moving, fucking up, changing, and etc.'ing for a little longer.
After I'm done, do I put it in a drawer and let it smolder for a few months, douse it, read over the class’s comments, and start the next draft? Do I let it simmer longer and start a new novel? Do I focus on short stories and novel excerpts in an attempt to get short pieces published and my name out there more?
Stick around. I'll let you know how it all goes down.
Define the Phrase
I’ll give the answer in my next post.
(From the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.)
Bethany Curve, Biff Bang Pow, Big Black, Big Country (one after the next in my iTunes).