Joyce Carol Oates is coming to Converse and I am so excited. Her works have long been an inspiration to me. And I am amazed at the vast content of her various works. I was first introduced to her writing through “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” I was fascinated to read about a character that I shared a first name with. Of course as I read, I was extremely thankful my life did not take the same direction of the Connie in the story.
I read an article about the story’s inspiration, a news article about a serial killer. Writers are always looking for inspiration. My current novel in progress was actually inspired by a news article I read about divorced spouses, who return to help their terminally ill exes.
I was at the Christian Writers Conference last weekend here in Spartanburg and there is so much energy when a group of like-minded individuals get together. On Friday evening we broke into groups of our various genres and had the opportunity to talk a little about our works in progress and receive immediate feedback from published authors. I was amazed at the various reactions. One woman insisted her story stood as it was and she had already written several follow up novels. She refused to listen to any of the panel’s suggestion.
I thought my novel had a great outline too, but then the panel made a few suggestions. I did not really want to listen, but after attending many workshops, I have learned to listen to constructive criticism. Maybe we should change the term to constructive instruction because it is not really meant to be critical at all.
That evening I ruminated over their suggestions. I thought I had such a great conflict for the daughter in my novel in progress, but the panel suggested it was not enough. I wrote a new scene and immediately realized they were correct.
In my first workshop in creative writing here at Converse, I was irrationally attached to a few paragraphs in a short story I was writing. Professor Tekulve encouraged me to let it go. I believe she even agreed that the paragraphs were good, but not right for that particular story. This gave birth to my cut file on my computer. Anything I am not willing to let go of, but is not working for that piece, I place in the cut file, safe to revive when the right work comes along.
As my college career is coming to a close, only three more classes, but as a part-time student, I will be here in the fall, I know where I have been, but where I am going is what I am excited about most. Converse II has allowed me to revive a dream that I assumed the time had passed, but now I’m here, the dream emerges from the cut file of my life.