Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Writers Blockade

Oh man.

A couple of nights ago as I was falling asleep I was listening to the New Yorker Fiction podcast as I was falling asleep, and the featured writer- honestly I don't even remember his name- but he was an English Professor to supplement his writerly income. I'm not sure what triggered it, but I could feel the hot blush creeping across my face in the dark just thinking about my days as a "writer" in college.

I had some fairly well known authors as both my professors and my advisor as I was working my way through the English department, and in all honesty they were pretty universally terrible as teachers. It was clear that they were just barely tolerant of their students, frequently opting for peer to peer editing rather than reviewing the students work themselves. At the time, in my late teens and earliest twenties I dismissed them as assholes in general and bad professors at the best, frequently at the bar

But now- can you imagine a worse job!? Ugh ugh ugh I am so painfully horrifyingly embarrassed at the thought of reading the fiction and the poetry exercises (especially the poetry exercises) that I submitted in college. I cringe at the thought that people EVER read them, even the students from back then who's face I can vaguely remember but who's name escapes me. The last time I put any time reviewing anything I had written (blogs excluded) was probably five years ago? Even when I was moving I could barely even look at the color coded binders from 2000-2004, just shoved them in a box then duct tape duct tape duct tape and hopefully never open again. UGH

But back then I thought I was so good- like sooo good. It's kind of like looking at pictures of yourself from prom and you laugh, but back then you really thought you had it Goin' ON! I thought I was so good, and nobody could tell me anything. Those old, published, noted authors who told me that I could maybe try writing about someone who was not so clearly just myself- they just didn't understand me.

But now. . . just imagine having to deal with 20 or 30 people like me, four times a year for 10 years. I would give up and go with peer-to-peer editing too!! I should have realized what was what back then, because I frequently disliked the other students work too because --- exactly what was wrong with my work-- it was hack, it was too wordy and it was pretty clear that they should try using a narrator that was not so clearly just themselves, groping their way desperately through post adolescents. I still dislike most peoples writing- because most of it isn't any good, but you can never say what you honestly think

In other words, when you are young you think you know everything, but really you know nothing. It use to make me so angry when people would say that- but it really is true.

All that being said- I also had some AWESOME . wonderful, beautiful Creative writing professors, mostly graduate students that really helped me develop as a writer and a critical thinker. So. . . yeah!


Anonymous said...

Great post. But don't be too harsh, I think you had it going on a whole lot more than your peers.

I remain anything but concise, and what's worse - I'm starting to realize it.

Greg said...

"it was pretty clear that they should try using a narrator that was not so clearly just themselves"

Amazing. This is my biggest problem with writers.

People who can narrate outside their own perspective are the real winners. Well, them and people who actually win things... like races... or Settlers of Catan.