Outside Opinion

"I always show my work to one of two people before sending a copy to my editor or agent. I feel more secure and connected this way, and these two people get a lot of good work out of me. They are like midwives; there are these stories and ideas and visions and memories and plots inside me, and only I can give birth to them. Theoretically I could do it alone, but it sure makes it easier to have people helping." Anne Lamott, from Bird by Bird

Other than blog posts, most of my writing is done in a vacuum. No one ever reads the scribblings that go in all the assorted folders on my computer - the "creative nonfiction" folder, the "memoir" folder, the "short story" folder, and certainly not the "novels" folder. For some time, I've had a nagging feeling that this needed to change, that it would not only be nice, but advantageous, to have another pair of eyes look at this stuff and tell me if it's worth anything more than just a way to fill time.

The perfect opportunity arose when one of the  bloggers I most enjoy offered a six week online creative nonfiction class. Andi is a writing teacher and a creative nonfiction writer, and I thought this would be the perfect way to inch my writing out into the world.

I was right. It was a grand experience, not at all painful, and it gave me not just one pair of eyes, but six more too. It helped me see what I was doing well, and not-so-well, how I needed to go deeper into my subject and my psyche in longer essays, as opposed to the short blog posts I'm used to writing. I learned that I have a tendency to mix up tenses all too often. I'm more aware on unnecessary phrases, and of those that need more explanation.

Revision has always been the most difficult part of writing for me, because it's hard for me to know where I'm going wrong. Having a group of writing partners for a few weeks started pointing me in the right direction.

Andi is offering the Intro to Creative Nonfiction class again come September - check it out here, along with her Facebook page, and her blog. She is also part of a consortium of other writers, The Whole Story Media Group, who have come together to offer editing and marketing assistance with all manner of writing projects.