Frustrations of a Writing Student
One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered in my life was going to school for writing. Granted, a lot of the aspects to learn about writing are things you can learn in a high school creative writing class, but majoring in writing is a whole different league. There may not be much more to learn but there are rigorous deadlines and class workshops to face. You’ve got to be thick skinned.
Lucky for me, I knew all about workshopping when I entered college. My high school had offered an unchartered class so far my senior year: advanced creative writing. In this class we were working towards a full-length novel. And every week we’d workshop some of the pages the class had been working on. If going to high school wasn’t bad enough, imagine your work getting torn apart. It was a very hard time.
And then I went to college. When I shared my work with the class, I wasn’t too scared of what I would hear. If they tore it apart, that’s okay. At least it got an emotional response out of some to critique it so harshly. I never wanted to be the girl where the whole class went around saying “it’s good” or “I liked it” because that was such a disengaged answer.
There were so many people in the classes with various backgrounds in different genres. And there were so many people who were content with just being told their work was good.
That’s when I realized; being a writer was so much more than that. My friends and family could tell me my work was good and that was exactly the reason I seldom shared my writing with them. I didn’t need my ego to be stroked or my dreams be reaffirmed; I needed constructive criticism. And that’s when workshops made sense.
I was a better writer because I craved criticism because criticism meant improvement. I wasn’t basing my entire career off of something people told me I was good at. I was writing because I knew I could always get better.
But something more frustrating than people thinking that because they were good at writing, they could hack it as a writer was my friends’ reactions. When they got a good grade on their business tests or science experiments, it was a major accomplishment, something to celebrate. When I got straight A’s and had a 4.0 GPA it didn’t count because my major was a joke.
For some, that would be the nail on the coffin to go down a more conventional path. What I said, and what I encourage others to combat such comments with is this:
You get to study books, regurgitate information. Me, I have to create everything. I have to think of every tiny detail. I have to write stories, sew words together into poetry. I have to put myself out there to be criticized. And you, you have to memorize.
And those words made all the difference. The road to the top may not be glamorous or I might never publish something at all, but I’m doing something I’m passionate about, something that could turn into so much more. Maybe one day my name will common to find out bookshelves everywhere. And maybe it won’t.