A little Donna Summers to start your morning off.
So last night was the last meeting for my Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy class. I was sorry to see the class end. When I started the class I was in a bit of a dark place. I was struggling to find my path and coping with the feeling that I had no skills and was not good at anything. Through the course of my class I learned just buckets about writing, such as what good writing structure is, how to avoid traps, and how to make my stories more interesting. And more importantly I learned that I do have some skills and I am good at something.
I wish I could say that after presenting my last short story in class everyone jumped to their feet and proclaimed it the best story they had ever heard. I can't. I liked the story I had written, but it had flaws and while everyone else seemed to like it too, I did get some much needed, but disappointing criticism. I think what I wanted most was someone to say "I can tell you are improving as a writer." I truly believe that I am improving with every piece I write. I know a lot more about the editing process now and I feel I am churning out better manuscripts. But even though I believe it to be true, it would have been nice to hear someone else say it. Sometimes validation goes a long way.
That is one of the downsides to writing I suppose. You do so much of it in a vacuum. You may think you are doing great work, when in reality you story has flaws that you just can't see. Part of that is training yourself to see the flaws. Learning self-editing is important. I also believe that finding a good writing group is important. Getting other people's opinions and perspectives can be invaluable to a writer. That isn't to say that your own opinion isn't important, just that other people can sometimes see what you missed. There is another end to the spectrum though, and taking everyone else's opinion and not listening enough to your own voice is just as bad as never listening to anyone else's opinion. As with everything in life, there is a balance.
I can't say taking this writing class helped me figure out my path completely. I can't say it healed all of my wounds and gifted me with the knowledge of the ages. But I do feel better having taken it. I came out the other side with more ideas and more knowledge than before. I think I have a path to walk down now. I have some direction to go. And for now, that is enough for me.
(As a sidenote, I would like to point out to my mother that I did not use the word "really" once in this post. :-P)