I've taken writing classes before, of course. And in each of these classes so much of my success or failure was rooted in those student writer relationships. The more I gave to interactions, the more I was given. I guess this is like any close, intimate relationship. And let me tell you, it feels very intimate to share my writing with a group of strangers in a closed setting, where feedback is not only encouraged, but required.
Plus, I always feel like there is a slight undercurrent of competition between writers. I don't think any of us would admit this to one another; but let's face it, we cannot all get the front page story, right?
When I took creative writing at Temple, we'd be given a stack of our classmates stories to read and critique each week. We rotated through stories; marking each up with our notes on technique and insights. One story stuck with me forever. It was called "The Flagman" and used a road construction flagman as analogy for domestic abuse. Every time I am stopped by a flagman and grow frustrated, I think about that story and how domestic abuse isn't just horrible and terrifying, it must be frustrating, too.
The woman who wrote the story was a better writer than I was; I wonder what happened to her and if the story was autobiographical in anyway. I remember her critique of my story about a girl taking the train to the city to finish her brother who is in treatment for cancer and always had cupcakes. She wrote: "It's almost there but not quite."
I thought about her critique today when I submitted my first two stories ideas. Both ideas are solid, I think and most important, executable in the time frame provided. But, I don't think either one is there--and I hope one of my fellow writers points that out and maybe points me in the right direction so I can get there.
Either way, week one of school is a wrap; just 11 more weeks to go this semester.