At the end of last semester, I was completely worn-out when it came to workshopping. I was tired of other people’s opinions. I had this overwhelming sense that no piece I could write could ever be good enough for someone to say, “This is perfect. I have no suggestions.” I no longer needed the deadlines to force myself to write. I was in the middle of a MFA burnout.
Thankfully, I decided not to take any classes this semester and have formed my own workshop groups with other students or other people I trust outside of the program. Having a break from workshop was exactly what I needed. I needed to have a break to be able to really appreciate workshop groups for what they are and what they can be. I needed to get to a place of openness and humility when hearing other people’s comments, so I wasn’t taking everything personally.
These workshop groups have really been invaluable. Since the year started, I’ve met with two groups once. At the first group, I got really valuable feedback about how to clean up my poem, “Myrrh,” which I think really helped it get accepted quickly. Today, I’m meeting with another group for the second time, and we’re workshopping each other’s fiction. My cohort wrote an absolutely gorgeous story about a guy whose parents died in a tornado, and I got inspired to write a poem about a tornado. Another great thing about workshops: we inspire each other.
My cohort’s story includes a lot of facts and mythologies about tornadoes, (like some people think tornadoes only move northeast (a lie)), so I was attracted to the idea of the myths of this force of nature. Aeolus is the Greek king of the winds who unleashed them when the gods wanted someone or something destroyed.
“Aeolus kept the winds locked
inside a hollow heart locket. ”
Right now, like when I write many drafts, I have the framework. I have the parts of the mythology I want to include and other parts I’ve added in to try to cleave it from obviously being attached to the original. The winds are always described as “horse spirits,” which is interesting, but horses aren’t an animal I really write much about. I prefer birds, so I’m interested in playing around with that.
So far, it’s been hard to stick to a specific day for my writing ritual, but I’m still trying to write at least one draft per week, which has been successful so far (barring the week I was horribly ill).
How are your writing rituals holding up?