To Cut or Not To Cut…Editing and Workshopping for the Passive-Aggressive Writer

Today, I want to talk about editing. It’s the bane of many writer’s existence. For me, it’s such a daunting task that I find myself coming up with chore after chore that needs done before I can get to the editing of my story.

I love my story, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s an amazing story with realistic characters and a fantastic plotline. But I don’t want to cut anything. I don’t want to change things.

After reading several articles and book sections about editing and preparing a manuscript for publishing, I’ve made a few early decisions on edits, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to make the hard changes.

I have discovered a pretty rookie mistake with my manuscript and it was the easiest cut to make. My prologue, which I wrote with the intention of guiding the reader into the exact timeline of my story, is a prime example of authors holding the readers hand, something every experienced writer discourages. I want to trust that my readers will get it so I have to trust them to dive right into my world and explore on their own.

On another related note, I want to take just a second to talk about something that I experienced in my MFA courses this past term.

In a workshop a few weeks ago, I offered a writer who clearly didn’t have as much experience as me some advice which I thought would be super helpful in getting them to a near-perfect score on an assignment. Much to my suprise, they were offended and outraged by my suggestions. Not only did they hate my suggestions, they took to our MFA writing community to attack me. They posted that my suggestions were “hostile” and “bordering on abusive.” Other classmates actually rallied behind her without seeing the feedback I offered and suggested she contact her advisor and the teacher to have me punished!

For the record, my feedback included pointing out that she said the same three words twice in a row, clearly an editing error that was a simple correction, and that a paragraph in her paper should have been an e-mail to the teacher, not part of the final project since it was completely irrelevant to the assignment that she couldn’t open a link to an assigned article. (BTW, the teacher e-mailed everyone a corrected link so she obviously didn’t check her e-mail or she would have been able to access the article.)

In what world was my observation that she should consult the instructor “Abusive”?

I went into the MFA program open minded about the workshops, desperately hoping they would be better than the undergraduate workshops, which were filled with people who would post entirely irrelevant comments on peer-reviews that had nothing to do with the work they were reviewing.

One undergraduate peer-review actually made a bunch of comments on my paper telling me it was “too scary” and “too gory”. It was a young adult romance, no blood, no gore, nothing remotely scary about it. They simply didn’t read it and made a bunch of remarks. – The teacher even followed up with me that their comments were to be ignored entirely.

So, in conclusion, I hate creative writing workshops because people act like spoiled toddlers and can’t take criticism. How on earth do they plan to make it in the publishing business if they can’t take a little constructive criticism?

Alright, guys. My rant is over. I’m sorry.

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Published by cathymariebown

I am a writer and student looking for my place in the digital world.

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