The downside of workshop is that you have to endure being workshopped. Of course, the point is to break everything down. That’s how everyone learns. I have even felt nostalgia for past shops where I was vivisected, but that was later, because I turned in something better. The shop story worked towards a happy ending. But over time this story's power has dwindled.
Time presents a new workshop problem: I generally know what everyone is going to say before they say it. What I hear over and over is that my voice engages but my structure has problems, and/or that my piece needs more weight. Here begins the heartbreak of writing—just because you are aware of your writing Waterloos doesn’t mean you know how to avoid them. Or revise them.
My goal for the next few weeks is to sort through the wreckage of five years (gah!) of drafts. Admittedly, much of this did go towards a book on Laura Ingalls Wilder, which will come out with Press 53 this fall. Completion! (I’ll be writing more in this later and—locusts willing—launch a website this summer). But I also have essays, memoirs, stories, flash fiction, aborted first novel chapters and now poetry sitting in desktop purgatory. So that’s my goal in the upcoming weeks. To attend to these lost souls. See what can be saved. What gets put in the DNR file.