I love my Read and Critique Class. I really do. Every Saturday afternoon as I drive home from class singing along with Adele or the soundtrack of Les Miserables, I review in my mind the critiques I received from my fellow writers in the class.
My mind swirls with all the comments.
“Love this first paragraph.” “Great grounding!” “Ugh, I was confused in page two. Who’s Nick?” “Your descriptions are spot on, but this one is so over the top.” “You can get rid of page four.” “I hate your mother.” “You do dialogue so well.” “This is so repetitive.”
By the time I get home, I am too weak to even look through the notes my classmates have scribbled all over my pages. I set my pages on my desk and leave them.
I’ll save that for tomorrow. Or maybe never.
My husband can tell if my critiques were positive or negative by my face and body language when I walk in the door and he asks, “Did they like your scene?”
Writing is tough. Writing is painful. Especially Memoir.
I love it. I hate it.
We writers need a strong shell. Simply showing your work to other writers is frightening. Reading it out loud to them is even more petrifying. All of our insecurities about our writing ability and storytelling skill are ramped up when we read the story of our lives in front of our peers.
Will they judge our technique, will they understand it, and will they relate and sympathize with the story? What if they hate it? What if they laugh when it’s not supposed to be humorous? Should I even try to write?
All I know is that as hard as it is, it is also the best thing we writers can do–join a class or workshop with other writers and share our words with others taking the same path who are as vulnerable as we are. I promise, each class gets easier. Our writing improves. We keep writing and growing. And, if you are lucky, you find kindred souls to reach out to when you doubt yourself, who will be there for you in those dark moments. And there will be dark moments.
Now I must stop and go over my notes from yesterday and, either way, positive or negative, they will force me to think outside of my box. Perhaps I’ll make a tweak here and a change there. All I know for sure is that I will be a stronger writer, my scenes will improve and my book will be better because of my amazing read and critique class.
Originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, Laura L. Engel has lived in Southern California for 50 years. She and her husband, Gene are the proud parents of six grown children and their spouses and “Grammy and PaPa” to nine exceptional grandchildren. Recently retired after 35 years as a regional sales representative for a national title insurance company, Laura left the corporate world and plunged headlong into writing her memoir in 2017. She has completed the Memoir Writing Certificate Program with Marni Freedman and currently serves as President of the San Diego Memoir Writers Association. She has won a place in the San Diego Memoir Showcase twice with scenes from her memoir. Her scene, “Secret Son,” was published in the anthology, Shaking The Tree, in 2018. Along with SDMWA, Laura is also a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Thought Leaders Who Write in San Diego, and Writers Ink. Recently Laura was interviewed by Dani Shapiro for her Family Secrets Podcast.
Laura’s memoir in progress is You’ll Forget This Ever Happened ..The Story of a Mother’s Love and Secret She Never Forgot. Please visit Laura’s website: https://www.lauralengel.com and listen to her podcast at: https://www.familysecretspodcast.com/podcasts/the-secret-son.htm
FB…@ laura l. engel author