A Reflection on Workshops and Revision

by Rebecca Frost

I’d like to say workshopping is a tedious, pointless use of time any writer worth their salt should avoid, Stephen King once said something like this in On Writing. There’s some source material around for me to make the case for locking the door until you come out with a masterpiece, but I can’t. Sure, workshops can tease the most petulant part of us all. It’s challenging to face a fault in the structure or content of my work, especially when someone else is holding the mirror.

 

Yet after I sigh, say they just don’t get it, and try to hold on to the fantasy of what my work looked like in my mind (sensible and witty with all the right parts connected correctly), I always start to see it’s blemishes. The process is a little embarrassing, but good work requires that humility.

 

That’s why it’s so important for writers of all kinds to find a community in which they feel comfortable getting and giving feedback. Sometimes this looks like a peer reviewed journal, where one works with an editor to sculpt their piece into the right shape. But before that step, it also look like a classroom. An online forum for prompts and discussions with other writers. A few friends gathering once a month for coffee and conversation about your latest ideas or pages.

 

The point is not where you receive feedback, it’s that you receive it all. So, though it may be nostril flaring at first, keep in mind that our work does not go into a vacuum. Our work is filtered through audiences across time and space. It sounds grandiose, but in an ever digital era when ten year old posts can resurface at a whim, writers must produce work that is conscious, well thought, and designed to be a part of an ongoing conversation with their audience



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