Fortnight is back with the second issue of Volume 7.
We’re off to a great start in 2016. If you don’t believe me, check out our latest issue and see for yourself!
Showing people your work is scary.
Work that you’ve slaved over, put your heart into, written and rewritten, drawn and redrawn.
And if you’re not at least a little worried about having other people read or see your work, please let me know (and teach me your ways).
I took a creative writing class last year that focused on the workshopping process. The first instruction given to us by our professor was to remain silent if it was our work being discussed. We were not to interject with an explanation or defense. There was time after to ask questions, but during the initial analysis, the writer was turned into a quiet observer.
This instruction was meant to help us to understand that what we intend to do really doesn’t matter that much if it’s not coming across to the reader. Of course, being able to bounce your ideas off of other people and get their input on how to connect with the readers is important. But understanding that it was my responsibility, and not the readers’, to make the meaning clear was an important lesson.
It can be easy as an artist to become defensive of your work when other people don’t understand it. I think it’s a natural reaction to feel protective of the work you dedicated so much feeling and time to.
Besides what the workshop process did for my writing, going through this class made me a tiny bit more open to sharing my work. I understand that no one wants my work to be bad. No one is out to rip apart the things I write… unless they’re doing it because they know I can be better. That knowledge doesn’t offer much consolation at the time, but it does makes me feel better when I reflect.
The point here is this: every artist knows the fear of sharing their work. But you can only get better when you share your work. I know it’s a process to get to that place, and it can be even harder to show someone your work when you know that they’re looking for places to improve it. But once you get there, it’ll be good for you.
My advice isn’t to not be afraid, because that’s unreasonable (or I would’ve felt it was unreasonable, had someone given that advice to me). My advice is to show your work when the time comes, even if you are afraid. Remember that people are on your side.
Wherever you are in the process is great. Do what feels right for you and your work, because art is a very personal thing. And when the time comes that you do share, I know there will be people out there who will be so happy that you did.
Let me leave you with this. It’s a scene I particularly like from a great movie.
This is Danielle Colburn, Fortnight’s blogger for the 2015 school year.
If you’ve just stumbled upon this blog and are confused, curious, and a little afraid, I’m happy to clear some things up. Fortnight Literary Press publishes poetry, prose, and art by and for the students of the University of Michigan. We meet every Sunday at 5 pm at Elixir Vitae on Maynard Street.
Fun fact about us: we would be tickled pink if we got to read or see your art.
Another fun fact about us: we would be tickled pinker if we got to read or see your art and get to know you at our weekly meetings.
So, it’s your call. Whichever one seems more your speed, the first step is submitting to us at email@example.com. (Just so you know, you don’t have to submit work to come hang out with us. If you just want to talk about some awesome art created by your peers, we’d love to have you).
I’ll be posting on a biweekly basis (or that’s the hope). I’ll post about writing, art, upcoming issues, events that seem fun, or anything else that might fit in here.
The ‘Stupendous Staff’ page should be updated soon, in case you want to do a little research before committing to spending an hour of your Sunday with some neat people in a really cute coffee shop.
A few quick things about me: I’m a sophomore. I’m majoring in English and minoring in Definitely Something, We’ll See What. I love to read (poetry, prose, blogs, dramatic Facebook statuses, etc), watch Disney movies, eat peanut M&Ms, and obsess over my collection of seven and counting succulents (if you don’t know, they’re adorable, hardy plants).
I’ll leave you with a video from one of my favorite Spoken Word poets. Sarah Kay is the poet who introduced me to Spoken Word. I watch her videos whenever I’m searching for inspiration
or avoiding my homework. This is just one of many of her marvelous works, so if you, too, are searching for inspiration or avoiding your homework, check out her other videos. Let autoplay go on indefinitely. Click related videos until hours have passed without you realizing it. And once you’re inspired, submit your work to us.
I’ve never been a poetry person. I’ll write short stories, flash fiction, and the beginnings of novels, but never poetry on my own time. I do read it every once in a while, and I enjoy explicating poems in class, but whenever I’ve been asked to write it, I have always felt about as qualified as a fish specialist at Petco being asked to train the latest Shamu.
Fortunately, the poetry class I’m in this semester (with Professor Cody Walker) asks us to write capital “B” Bad Poetry just as often as it asks us to compose lines worthy of publication. We take perfectly wonderful poems and “de/compose” them, tweaking one or two of their best qualities and leaving laughably inadequate paraphrases behind. In the process, we are instructed to reflect upon why our changes make the poems so Bad. What is it about the originals that makes them so great?
I never would have guessed that writing Bad Poetry would make clearer the greater aspects of famous poets like Sylvia Plath or Emily Dickinson, but it has. And it has also made my attempts at good poetry, a lot better. It draws my attention to musicality, imagery, emotion, word choice, and voice, and in doing so has given me a better understanding of how to successfully manipulate the English language in all kinds writing. It forces me to look at what I’m doing wrong and what others are doing right.
So next time you feel stuck on your writing – whether it’s poetry or prose – try writing something really awful. Take a master author/poet’s writing and make it Bad. Take your own writing and make it worse. Figure out what it is that’s working for you, and what it is that’s working for them. Write a really Bad poem from scratch just to shake the writer’s block. And from there, turn the bad to good, the good to great. Make Bad Poetry work for you.