Saturday, March 7, 2009

Team Beckett #4

The summer before senior year of high school I took a fiction workshop course at Carnegie Mellon University. At that point I'd been writing poems for about a year, and that summer I wrote my first short story. In that workshop class, and in the others I've taken since, we never had a structured process for critiquing each others work. I agree with what Jenny said during class, about most workshops or Q&A sessions being unproductive or pointless. While there are a few students in every class that actually have something honest and insightful to say about your work, most keep quiet or say things like "I like it." They never really dissect it.

By breaking us up into small groups and having us implement Liz Lerman's critical response technique, the process was more productive and worthwhile. At the same time, being that I'm not used to so much structure, I really just wanted people to tear my piece apart. Just dive in and give me initial, gut responses. I don't necessarily think anyone in my group was holding back. But I think a system like Liz Lerman's lends itself to people second-guessing what they have to say. That being said, I do think I received some honest feedback during the opinion part of the technique. I guess I'm just not used to being told how to critique something. How to give my opinion on something. I say just do it. Go for it. Criticism comes with the job. And it's nothing personal. I don't see anything wrong with jumping to the opinion bit right off the bat, or even interspersing the entire process with a bit of opinion. And like Jenny said, we don't have to respond or answer to everything. We can smile politely, jot down a few notes, and say thank you.

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