Would you mind if I ranted for a moment? Thanks.
All right. Once my children's lit workshop got over the initial shock of actually having to do work (see also: "I AM ANGRY AT THIS PROCESS!!"), people settled down and got to work and were generally quite creative and had a lot of fun. But. BUT.
I would like to think that I am not speaking as an elitist snob here. I would like to think that I'm not getting holier-than-thou, because while I've published a few things, they were in teensy little magazines that no one, including the editors, read (I know, because I edited a few of those, too). I would like to think that, once you are in a graduate-level creative writing program, there are a few things you can assume about the quality of your classmates and their writing, even if the primary qualification for the class was "getting accepted to the program and maintaining a pulse."
For example: I assumed that, in a writing workshop, all of the participants would be aware of 1) the presence of and 2) the means of using spellcheck. I assumed that we would all know that new speakers are given new paragraphs in dialogue, and that quotation marks are, in fact, used. However, "they are not" used at liberty "and sprinkled" throughout" the "paragraph like typo"graphical confetti." In fact, I was under the impression that workshop students would be aware of the location of the enter key and would use it as necessary to indicate paragraph breaks, and not run an entire story together like one of Toohey's hellish five-page diatribes in The Fountainhead. I was such a fool, you see. I had this naive, optimistic idea that I would not have to critique stories that set up Jane as a first-person narrator and then say, "Jane walked in the room," and before that feature scenes that Jane is not present to witness. All on the same page. With no transition between perspectives at all. And Jane spelled "Jaen" a couple of times. Oh, and forget your typical your/you're it's/its there/their problems--we moved way past that into barley/barely and passed/past territory. Into "she been lookin" and "he did said" territory. And, such an innocent am I, I assumed we would actually capitalize occasionally. Oh, verily, what an ingénue I was!
And if I sound bitter, here's why: I'm not describing a particular writer or a single story. I'm describing half the stories I had to read--hell, I couldn't read them, much less critique them.
Look. When I go into a workshop, I expect that people will often have great ideas but trouble expressing them. But by "trouble expressing them" I mean "trouble deciding which POV to use, how to develop the character, how to pace the story, how to balance description and exposition with plot," even if people can't walk in and articulate what the problem is up front. I don't even mind a few scattered typos. And one poor girl had plunked her story out on a manual typewriter, and all her contractions had commas instead of apostrophes--no one does that unless they're working around a broken key. So that's cool. It's not even like we have brave, half-literate grandmothers riding the bus in from the sticks to take a class and learn how to Put Their Stories of Wisdom and Experience on Paper. These are all people who have passed through public school systems and at least two years of college. All I expect, really, is that YOU PASSED HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH, HOR. PUNCTUATE WORTH THREE-QUARTERS OF A DAMN OR I KEEL YOU.
All right. I feel better now.
Have been useless today. Updated SAST, updated Trailer Park. Caught up on my f-list reading. Pretended that I don't have a massive paper due Thursday night.
Oh, and in the spirit of procrastination--I don't watch American Idol anymore, but my parents are just glued to it, and they are still aghast about the Jennifer Hudson thing last week. So what I want to know is this: y'all watch AI, right? What do you think happened with the voting? Is it just totally a John Stevens teeny-voters thing (my theory)? Who do you think should win? And since John Stevens and his voters seem to be getting most of the heat/blame in the media, how are actual John Stevens fans reacting to this? I'm really curious to see if people are going to feel chastened and start voting for the "talent," or (more likely) rally around Stevens because OMG HE IZ SO KEWT & TALNETED U HOW CAN U B SO MEEEEEN?
(Wow, I am really coming off like a snob today, aren't I?)
(P.S. I'm also an idiot. This initially got posted to lotr_news for... karmic snob retribution, I guess. I don't know. I R stupid. Carry on.)