Monday, September 15, 2008

Writer's Hat

So, I'm posting to avoid Chekhov. Surprised? Not me.

I'm slowly starting to feel comfortable about my classes, save Chekhov, but that will come with time and detailed reading. Workshop today went well and I felt like I could voice my opinions, somewhat clearly. I sorta botched the story introduction for my classmate (I feel bad about that), but other than that bobble, it went well. I turned in my story "Broken Reflecting Glass" and it will be workshopped next Monday. A guy, who knows a little of my plight with Chekhov and how stumped I was in regard to writing a story, asked, as I was handing it out, if I was having heart palpitations. I wasn't. Not even a nervous, tickling stomach as I passed copies around the table. Sure, I'm interested in how the guys will interpret my character and if anyone will wonder if I drew from my own life at all, but I wasn't nervous. I'm pretty confident in that little piece of work, which is saying a lot.

I'm very happy that I threw away my "workshop hat" as we talked about in class today. My prof asked if any of us had ever seen a change in our writing/voice when sitting down to write "literary" pieces. He looked directly at me (I wonder if he reads this blog) and mentioned that I was posting good things on our MFA blog (which was a nice compliment), and asked if I knew what he was talking about.

Why yes sir, I do!

I mentioned that I had put on that "Literary Hat" when sitting down to write the piece that I had intended for workshop and found that I couldn't write anything. I had to take off the hat--throw it like a piece of trash to the ground--and just write. And when I did this, my story came out quickly, perfectly, and I was content.

I don't ever want to wear that damn hat again.

So, if you ever catch be blogging and I mention avoiding writing, writer's block, or any other nonsense, slap me and tell me to take the god damned hat off and burn it.


Margosita said...

I was having a hard time with Chekhov, too. Last week we had an interesting discussion in class, though, and that made it worth it. That happens to me a lot, I think. As part of the course I'm taking we are also reading secondary material from Chekhov, to get a feel for his writing process. Some of the letters he wrote are really interesting. He really was kind of scary smart, and had some good things to say about writing. My favorite are the letters when he admits to feeling like he doesn't know what he's doing or how hard writing is. It's satisfying to know that he struggled, too.

We all make mistakes in workshop. I'm always thinking that other people say what I tried to say, only better. Oh, well. I'm learning!

Good luck with your story. (Link?) I bet you'll do well!

Margosita said...

We are reading this book, with some of Chekhov's letters and notebook. There are some other books out there with his letters, but this is a really good collection. (His number one hits, my professor said.)

I think a helpful way to look at Chekhov to think about what questions he is asking. He was quite clear that (unlike Tolstoy, for instance) he wasn't interested in giving moral lessons or opinions, just asking good questions, which he left to the reader to answer. Which is why nothing ever happens in his stories. A bunch of Russians sit around in the country and talk, pretty much.

He's a challenge, for sure. He takes two or three readings, at least.


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