Saturday, 18 December 2010

Workshopping

If I have one gripe with the MA I'm doing it's the workshopping. Not that people haven't worked on each other's writing and given masses of useful advice, they have. But right at the beginning, I would have liked a few minutes of suggestions about structuring the critique. 'One thing working, one thing not' seems to mean different things to different people. Now, on A363 we had a load of suggestions from the tutor and ideas and examples on the forum as well. The whole point of workshopping is to look primarily at the writing, and whether the plot delivers what the writer intended. Not to argue with the story itself. Imagination is, in my view, a matter of taste. I don't like to read stories set in the holocaust, for example, but I have no issue with other people writing them and readers enjoying them. We have a wide range of writing styles on our course, and a range of strengths and weaknesses. It's exciting to be in a group of writers whose individual skills are stronger than mine, but I wish the tutor would add a bit of guidance to the feedback. If one student is heavy handed about something there is no argument from the tutor, and we tend to give much heavier weight to criticism. On our very first week I had a student state, very loudly, that she couldn't believe in my character at all because she couldn't believe that anyone wouldn't have heard a certain song. So the whole of my piece was trashed, despite maybe having (I think) a few neat descriptive moments. I then realised that the same student doesn't cope well with criticism herself. I want to say (to anyone about to critique a piece) be truthful, if you don't like something, say so BUT remember, it is just your opinion. And if you dish it out, remember you have to be able to take it. I'm fairly robust because a) I am pretty confident in my work and b) I know I make mistakes and am happy to learn as much as I can. And, like most people, I often pick up when other people make the mistakes I make! So the whole experience is a great educational one, but is diminished if someone is coming from an emotional and not a critical perspective. Rant over.

All this is relevant for me at the moment because TMA03 is all about critiquing someones work on the forums. I have found the A363 tutor group a bit intense and led by relatively few people. I put work up and didn't get any feedback, but then the same piece went on to get a very good mark. I've more or less got TMA02 sorted and TMA04 is already mostly written (it's formative anyway, you just have to send in a bit about what you intend to do for the end of module assignment, now confusingly called the EMA. So 3 is all about working on someone else's piece and how they adapted it and improved it etc. That would have been a helpful exercise on the MA, for us to get feedback on our feedback!

Creatively, I'm having fun with poetry still, though I feel the urge to sit and write something like a short story, something stand alone which might be adaptable for TMA05 but also just for fun.

Having all the kids home (including daughter's other half) means the cooking takes a lot longer and even breakfast is a big deal. Who would have thought 6 'kids' could consume so much porridge and then play in the snow for so long!

This is the girls fighting the boys. Rosie got her hat knocked off a few times!

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading the interview at the back of the Francine Prose book - she had some very apt remarks on the workshopping process...

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