2014-02-20, 9:39 a.m.
recently on Chaos Attraction
So on Wednesday I had writing group. I had submitted a story about my old roommate's unspayed cat who went into heat constantly back in the day. (Reading this photo album will give you the general idea. Warning: kitty porn within, basically.) I was actually pretty proud of it and thought it was pretty funny and crazy and all that jazz. I have been listening to a lot of performance piece podcasts lately and that was kind of my intention for this work.
However. I forgot the number one rule of writer's group meetings, which is that EVERYONE IS GONNA HATE YOUR WORK, MORE OR LESS. Okay, not so much of a "hate" most of the time, but if you think it's good enough to publish (which I'll admit I was leaning towards)? Everyone will be disagreeing with you. Most heartily. I don't tend to submit to group very often, so I tend to FORGET this important fact in between months that went by. I shouldn't.
Mostly they were all, "I want more DEPTH," speaking in capital letters. "What's the MEANING of this? How does the narrator character change because of this? How does it affect her love life because she has no love life and is being humped by the cat?" And I'm thinking, "There was no meaning to this. I didn't really give a shit about my lack of love life at that point other than it fit in to make a couple of jokes about the cat getting laid more than I do." I wasn't going for depth here--I was just being funny. And people were basically saying to make it into a STORY and possibly fictionalize some of it, and that is kind of where I am all, "Nope, not gonna get in trouble like James Frey for making up shit that didn't scrupulously happen." But of course I am the only one in there not writing fiction, so they look at everything through a fiction prism. However, there's definitely not gonna be any nonfiction writers' groups out there, so that's not really something I can work on.
I don't really know how to handle certain kinds of criticism, I guess. Specifically, I don't know how to handle fixing things that just go beyond my capabilities of fixing. God knows I could rearrange sentences and fix typos, but "this needs to be completely and utterly rewritten BUT DIFFERENT" puts me at an utter loss. Any kind of critique that ends up boiling down to "Burn it down and start all over," well.... fuck if I know. I'm not good at starting out with a totally fresh brain, rewriting it from the point of my devolving fictional diary entries (which was suggested) or from the cat's point of view (also suggested, even more dubiously), or whatever. That wasn't what I wanted to do with it. But...if the entire group is unanimous over NOT WANTING THIS LIKE IT IS, then they're right and I'm wrong, correct? Majority rules? This is the kind of results you get when you ask others for help, after all.
Anyway, I felt the same as usual: like they wanted so much from me that I couldn't possibly deliver or "fix." They wanted things out of me that I didn't have to give. That I hadn't the faintest effing idea how to do. And I'll do the same thing I do on every story I turn in: take the written on papers, maybe or maybe not actually read them, probably stash them in a drawer. And then I will never, ever touch the story again. It will have died because I am too inadequate to write it well. For all the people who go on about how I'm a good writer...well, I come out of these things thinking I am not. And I don't know if they're right or not. They said it sounded like something I was going to read aloud on stage for lulz--well, yes, that's all I had intended for it! I didn't really want it to be a story with depth and meaning (again, this is about a horny humping cat), especially when there wasn't any to have in the first place. I told this to Merry and she was all, "well, if you wanted it to be like that, then that's fine." Maybe it is, I don't know. Or maybe it isn't and the entire world if they saw it would want MOAR DEPTH.
But...for all the whining I do about how I feel like I should be doing something with my life, Wednesday was when I was realizing that I wasn't good enough or up to writing that well in the first place.