Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Long story short...

I'm a part of a Writing Group of about eight people, who meet every two weeks and discuss each other's stories. We are all writers, all took the same Short Story class this summer, and decided to keep meeting since the best thing we got out of that class was each other's feedback. Our teacher was a bit "lazy" and would leave us with only about four comments per each story we would submit, which is not much to go on. But after 16 people (from class) or eight people (from group) read and dissect your story, you have plenty to go on, even too much. It can be overwhelming at times. "Who do I listen to, whom do I trust..." but after a while you instinctively know who's right about your story and who's wrong.
By the way, if you have ever written, you know that your stories are your babies. You are protective of them, know them so well, you understand them, then all of a sudden, someone tells you they are fat and need to lose weight, or their speaking is too convoluted and you need to take them to a speech therapist. It's hard. But necessary. I you want to sell your baby, i.e. get published.
Rewind a bit: I took a Writing Conference this summer, and met an agent who was very interested in my stories. I write historical fiction about Serbian characters from 1900 until now. All characters are connected, making an interwoven collection of short stories I want to publish before I'm 70.
Back to the agent. So, he read one of my stories and said: "They have great potential, but you're not ready yet. Take a short story class." That was this early summer. Since then, I have constantly been in a class, or a group, or both, like now. And I have gotten feedback from the same people,  on before and after,  who said that I have significantly improved my fiction writing in a very short time. All truth and nothing but.
Let me remind you that back in January, I gullibly thought my collection was perfect, and was sure that I'm holding the next "Kite Runner." Not so fast...Turned out that my Masters in journalism and non-fiction writing got a lot into my fiction.
So, learning never ends. But that's... O.K.

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