Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Workshop

By Monet Jones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” What a bunch of nonsense! Most of us have heard this line from childhood and perhaps responded to insults with it. It’s a lie. Words hurt, criticisms hurt, and even “constructive criticisms” often cause anguish.

This is a fact that we must recognize if we intend to relate to readers or improve our writing style. Spoken words can insult; written words can destroy. As aspiring authors, we must be aware of the possible impact of our words, and particularly the concepts described.

We also quickly learn that the power of words is a double-edged sword. Words give us power to hurt others, while at the same time endowing critics with the ability to cut us to the quick.

For that reason, a certain amount of masochism is involved, particularly with the Columbia II Workshop, whenever one submits to a peer review. Writers who set up scenes with words must realize that we can’t be objective enough to anticipate all possible viewpoints, never mind spelling and grammar. Painting word pictures is always an inexact art, and therefore, accords suggested improvements.

This is the “raison d’être” for writers' workshops. It is my belief that no writer ever achieves a standard of professionalism that would make peer review redundant. You might have a rapier wit and think you have produced a “monumental tome of literary excellence,” only to have it drop into an abyss of indolent nescience, if none but a select few appreciate it. (The preceding statement is a façade of BS intended to impress the casual reader.)

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