Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Bit O' Fog

There is a pasture that butts up against our back yard. The barbed wire fence separates us from a lovely herd of cows and the occasional flock of black birds. The fence, however, does little to actually separate us from the birds; they decide on their own to feast predominately in the cow field.

Usually, just beyond the pasture, one can see the road. You can even hear it when the appliances are silent. Today, however, there is nothing beyond the field. Just a white wall of fog.  The trees stand out in stark, black contrast to the mist, creating the illusion of a void beyond.

Last week I had to submit two screenplay ideas for my writing class. I am not a screenwriter. I've tried it before and, apart from being an interesting experiment in dialogue, I felt completely out of my element. Floundering. Needless to say I'm feeling that way in this course. Unlike my own project, I can't just decide screenwriting isn't for me this time. I have to persevere for seven more weeks. This week is the big challenge: we begin critiquing each other's ideas.

Now I've critiqued and had critiqued creative writing before. It's part of the degree and I don't mind it. I appreciate the constructive criticisms and have learned to brush aside the, "I just don't get what you're trying to say" comments that pop up with some regularity. This time, however, I'm a bit apprehensive to check my comments. I feel a lot like the cow pasture today: appearing substantial and yet, just beyond me, is a white void of nothing.

Am I feeling insecure? You bet. Too bad this didn't come for my Insecure Writers Support Group post. Alas, insecurity doesn't wait until it's needed for a witty post or inspirational diatribe. It's here, lurking, creeping around like the mist beyond my doors and windows. Tapping against the panes. Curling around the trees. Is it a big deal? No. I'll get a good grade as long as I follow the procedures and create according to the rubric. Thankfully, we're not being graded on Oscar-worthy ideas. Still...I'm a writer...and the prospect of "you suck" in any capacity (even one that is not my normal genre) is a bit unnerving.

What shall I do? Considering the critique is part of our grade, I'll march myself over and begin critiquing other people's work. Then I'll ever so hesitantly,creep over to my own post and see what others have to say. Keep your fingers crossed! Hopefully the fog clears in time for others to see that there really is something on the other side of the trees.


  1. Hey, I'll even hope they ignore the cow crap in the field as well!
    If it was the best you could do at the time, then it will show. It will be all right, Jen!

  2. you will be fine...hey if it makes it better i am all for it....if someone is just being an asshat and trying to tear you down, then knock em out....ha....i imagine since its for a class you should be good....smiles.

  3. Everything's going to be fine, Jen! Keep marching forward, cow crap and all!

  4. Writing means hearing 'you suck' over-and-over I'm afraid. That's a huge part of the hide toughening required for the gig, and it's better to have it from the hands of academics as opposed to some random "asshat" (thanks to Brian above for that ... still laughing) on the Internet.

    Here's something to get you through every 'you suck' henceforth: If you're never as bad as you think, nor as good as you'd like, the only thing to do is keep writing.

  5. With diligent practice it will come to you. If it's not a masterpiece it will still be your effort in working toward the goal of excellence. You'll do fine.

    Wrote By Rote

  6. I've got my fingers crossed for you! I hope any criticism is constructive and helpful. You can do it!

  7. You can do it Jen!
    I think you have more talent than what you give yourself credit for...

  8. You might be surprised at what you can do when pressed into a new comfort zone. I think you'll be brilliant. You have so many wonderful ideas lurking in the murkiness and fog!

    (I'm linking to your Jan. post today.)

  9. I'm sure that you did great. I sure did like the vision that you created of the cows, the field and the fog.

    I remember having to critique a fellow student's work. It took me forever, and later the teacher said that he wouldn't have spent that much time on it! The subject matter was why women should stay home and not go to work. Oh my.

    Kathy M.

  10. Ah. Such great comments above! I think we all get stuck/lost in the fog sometimes. Hang in there. You can do great things!

  11. Alex: Thanks! And I especially want them to ignore the cow crap :)

    Brian: Ha! Yes, I should be fine. There have been some times where the comments are less than constructive but I usually brush them off with some well placed sarcasm :) Oh, and "asshat" is one of my favorite words...don't ask me why...

    Kittie: Thanks :)

    E.J.: Thanks! Yes, "asshat" always gets me laughing. As long as I do my best, I can't ask for anything more, right?

    Lee: Thanks for the encouragement, and thanks for stopping by!

    Meredith: Thanks. I will say that this degree has given me a better respect for criticism and it has really helped me learn to brush off that which is merely annoying and not constructive.

    Michelle: Thanks :)

    Mary: Thanks so much! And thanks for the link :) I appreciate it!

    Kathy M.: Thanks for stopping by! Sorry I've been absent :)

    Margo: Great to see you!! Thank you for the encouragement!

  12. I'm sure you'll do fine! Don't worry about not being good enough.


  13. I love the neat wrapping you gave this experience. The imagery of the fog and your own insecurity were supreme.


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.