Friday, June 3, 2016

REVISION Without (too much) Blood

Howdy, Campers!

Happy Poetry Friday!  My poem's below, as is the link to this week's PF host...and a link to a Poetry Camp for Grown-ups!

I'm the caboose on this TeachingAuthors train; this round we're discussing After the First Draft: Revision.Mary Ann starts us off with Congratulations! It's a First Draft!, JoAnn continues with Spring--and Revision--in the Air, Bobbi inspires (actually, each of these inspires...) with Facing The Words, Carmela continues with 3 Revision Tools for Seeing the Big Picture. 'Tis my turn.

*   *   *

I just wrapped another class, and it's like semi-sweet chocolate:
...I'm eager to get back to my own projects, and I'm sorry to disconnect from these complicated, wonderful humans I've gotten to know over six tightly-packed weeks.

And like so many of you, I learn from every student.

One student in particular from this class, Mary Mahon (who gave me permission to use her name), has taught me how to take criticism. No matter what I threw at her in written critiques, no matter what the class said in group critiques, this woman took in everything without defensiveness, without slumping in her chair, without the shadow of a cloud crossing her face.

Each week.

Every story.

Last night, I took a new picture book in to my critique group.  This is usually my suck-in-my-breath time. My oh-I'm-just-fine time.

Cut! my group said. Cut the last part!  And, Why are these two characters even here? Kill them off! And, No--that's not where it should end...this is where it should end!

Last night, though, I did not shrink. I did not sag. I did not feel crushed or cornered or less-than.  I didn't feel like my critique group had their gloved hands inside my stomach and were re-arranging my guts.

Okay, the simile may be just a tad over-the-top...
my critique group is kinder than this.
I felt like an adult. I heard my student saying brightly, "I learn from all your comments!"

...I learned from all their comments.

This is revelatory. This is spectacular. I am a walking miracle (no sutures!)

by April Halprin Wayland

I have been chiseling 

     By year
          By year.

But rewriting 
this story 

I'm catching perfect waves,
racing my bike down hills,
riding shooting stars!
poem © 2016 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

So, hopefully, reading about how my student changed me will help you. Some of us need to see and hear how others take in things differently. How they walk lightly.

Can you channel my student's voice as you work on that next draft? Maybe you'll hear content, not censure; new ideas, not attacks.

And me? I can't wait to kill off two of my characters.
Now fly over to Check it Out, where MsMac is hosting Poetry Friday...

...then check out this one-day Poetry Camp for Grown-ups...
and's 4th annual Revision Week,
in which Deborah Halverson asks five best-selling writers
to weigh-in on revision....

check out Laurie Purdie Salas' reflections on revision here

Posted by April Halprin Wayland...shown working on her second draft


Books4Learning said...

I love the way this captures the writing process. I am going to use it in my composition class. Thanks.

Doraine Bennett said...

Love your pics! and that idea of walking lightly. Thanks.

Penny Parker Klostermann said...

Sounds to me like that student was ready to learn from take them in and decide which to apply. I'm glad you posted this because we can all learn from your student.

Love the positive ending to your poem!

Violet Nesdoly said...

This brilliant sentence: " I didn't feel like my critique group had their gloved hands inside my stomach and were re-arranging my guts" captures perfectly how I have often felt in the presence of critique. This is a practical (and humble) post. Thank you!

CS Perryess said...

What a great lesson to learn, & what a fine poem to top it off. Thanks again, April.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Books4Learning ~ I'd love-love-LOVE a follow-up to hear how you use it and how it worked in class!

Doraine ~ a high compliment from one who walks VERY lightly ~

Penny ~ thank you...there are so many classrooms full of students to learn from, right? I think I am more open to hearing them now. It's only taken decades of teaching...!

Violet ~ glad you didn't gag on that metaphor. Truth can be gory!

CS ~ thanks for coming along on this often bumpy ride of teaching and learning as I teach, too.

Brenda Harsham said...

April, this is so on-point for all of us writers, needing to improve our writing, yet mourning the bloody process of getting there. Your poem ending on a shooting star was a lovely metaphor.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Brenda, thank you. I keep re-reading that poem, feeling like it isn't enough, it's too needs more. So your comment truly helps!

Bridget Magee said...

Yes, "I learn from all your comments!" - words to live by. =)

Carmela Martino said...

I will think of this often, April. Hurrah for Mary Mahon, and for YOU, for internalizing her openness!