Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tales From My Memoir Writing Class: My First Critique

Last week, I went through my first critique in my memoir-writing class. I'm happy to say it went very well!

In class, we call these critiques "booths" because it's supposed to be as if the person getting his or her work reviewed is in a booth. Therefore, only one person is allowed to speak at a time and the person getting critiqued can't say anything until the end of the session. This can be tough when you want to defend a point or clarify something, but it really forces you to actually listen to what's being said.

For the most part, my booth was a very positive experience. I'd written a piece about an embarrassing childhood memory and wasn't sure it was "deep" enough for this class. Everyone liked it, though! I was surprised by how many of my classmates could relate to my pain and I was floored when some compared my work to Margaret Atwood and Judy Blume. I adore both of these authors and Blume's writing inspired me to get into YA. So to have it said that my work made people think of these women is a huge deal for me.

However, the session wasn't all gushy and my classmates/teachers had many valid suggestions. My teacher said I tend to use cliche phrases and encouraged me to come up with new ways of saying old things. She also said I overuse the word "that." Last year, I laughed when someone reviewed BAND GEEK and said the same thing. I mean, it's a word... and a tiny one. But I guess I really do overuse it!

My instructor also challenged me to use all 15 pages which are allotted for our booth pieces. I'd handed in five pages, but she believed I could've said a lot more. I'm used to having to condense in order to fit magazine pieces into a particular space, but she urged me to write more. I did, and managed to fill all 15 pages for my next booth.

What's really nice is how my classmates and teacher were so invested in my story. They wanted to know what happened to everyone involved, so my latest booth piece is the sequel. It's about yet another embarrassing childhood incident. I have plenty of those, unfortunately!

My latest piece gets critiqued next Monday. I feel like it's pretty solid, but I really opened up and shared some humiliating (and gross) information. I hope my classmates and teacher enjoy it as much as they liked my first booth.

Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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