Having your work critiqued is like going to a funeral. A funeral for an old person with a bad, painful cancer, where everyone’s like, “I”m glad that’s over. It’s all for the best.” I have the same need for ritual, and the same shaky desperation to affirm my own aliveness afterward.
I really did have the ego beat out of me by the writing project. I really didn’t feel any discomfort in having my piece taken apart or criticized here. It’s not easy to get to that point, if making things is what you’ve always wanted to do, a vital piece of your identity. Also that it’s great to get there. I was anxious waiting for my turn. Once things got going, I was cool. I felt like I knew how to fix it, anyway.
I just got to enjoy people saying it was “beautifully written,” and a someone with damn stellar credentials say, “I didn’t really care about the story much, it was so well written.” I’m going to take that to the bank. The proverbial bank. Where there is no actual money.
After class I tried rather desperately to hook up with someone who would drink with me. Last social evening was all male, this was all women. We ate and drank, listened to a classmate read at open mike, and then went on to our teacher’s place for a little fete.
It’s like being a fish finally in water. It’s so easy to talk to people. Not that we talk about writing all the time or anything. My class is memoir, so we all quickly know some intimate stuff about each other. To my relief, no one is all angsty confessional about it, though. No one is all wounded and wanting help. Maybe it’s even nice because people have processed their shit, and it’s not all simmering on a back burner. (The poets are the zebras of this event. Like, “Have you seen one? Did you photograph it? Where was it? What was it doing?”)
A few of us decided this one house was our teacher’s house (he had misspoken the address) and we went into the backyard to wait for him to show up. I felt this was about one millionth on my scale of sneaky bad girl deeds, but others seem to find it quite wicked. He showed up eventually. We sat in the backyard of this old Victorian house and talked about Paris, husbands, architects, digging ditches in Juneau, Hagia Sophia.
I was checked for my rightness to drive back to my hotel (most of us are staying “in town,” as they say). I thought, what kind of wild band of artist types is worried about drunk driving? Who worries about walking alone to her car in a dark parking garage? That’s hardly enough danger for me! Well. Anyway. I had enough fun. Plenty enough.