Since last week’s update, the creative writing students have focused their energy on their final
projects. First drafts were due early this week, and students will spend much of their remaining
time producing a heavily revised second draft.
The title of Friday morning’s essay brilliantly sums up the excruciatingly difficult but necessary
nature of revision: Surgery without Anesthesia. We spoke about the need to put aside one’s ego
in order to revise effectively, to let go of our attachments to our original ideas so that new,
exciting and surprising ideas can present themselves in the next draft. We discussed the necessity
of time, something we have so little of now in Spoleto, and the usefulness of workshop in
gaining an objective perspective on one’s own writing. To illustrate these points, we read two
versions of what is essentially the same story at its core: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark,
and Miranda July’s contemporary remix simply titled Birthmark. 150+ years separate the
publications of these two stories, as well as a mountain of personal, generational and cultural
On Monday and Tuesday of this week we workshopped each other’s drafts as a group. The
workshop environment is crucial not only for the external feedback the students receive, but also
for the practice students obtain in turning a writer’s critical eye toward works-in-progress. The
hope is that with enough of this practice, students will then be ready to turn that same objective,
critical eye toward their own work during revision.
Today students are once again meeting with me individually to discuss their second drafts, and
tomorrow we’ll be wrapping everything up in anticipation of Saturday’s final reading.
To Mai Ly, Maddie, Drew, Ruby, Wickie, Sasha, Riley and Leo – thank you for your focus,
effort and participation in class these past 3 weeks. It’s been an absolute pleasure teaching this
group, and I wish everyone the best of luck in their future projects!