Writing is kind of a thankless obsession. It’s filled with rejection, self-doubt, and general insanity. When you’re an unpublished fiction-writer, like me, the validation for what you’re doing doesn’t come very often, but when it does, it’s glorious.
A few weeks ago I talked about Really Fucking Good Stories. I was envious of their really fucking goodness. Then during class last week, we workshopped Love Shack’s story. It was really fucking good caliber. I was so jealous I wanted to eat my own spleen. In fact, Love Shack got the highest praise I’ve ever heard Dale give (and I’ve taken something like five classes with Dale), “I wouldn’t change much.” I nearly died on the spot, so filled with envy and amazement.
Last night, the class workshopped my story, “Imaginary Boyfriend.” It’s the one I wrote last year at about this time. It’s the first story I’ve revised in a long, long time. And now I remember why I love revising, because when you do good things happen.
This afternoon I went through the manuscripts I got back from my classmaes and Dale. I read the first paragraph of Dale’s critique and nearly wept. Here are some highlights:
It’s amazing to see what you’ve done with this story since I read it last year. Back then, I remember loving your dialogue and terrfic sense of humor and thinking that the characters, particularly Veronica, were wonderful. None of that has changed. With this latest revision, you’ve managed to turn a perfectly good story into an even more complicated, compelling, funny, satisfying, brilliant work of fiction. It’s a great testament to the power of revision.
I wouldn’t suggest making any major changes to the piece in terms of structure or narrative . . .
The scenes with Steven are brilliant. . .
But my favorite line in the entire story is on page 16, when Veronica pushes Steven away so she can read Colin’s text message: “I was a monster.” Wow. I absolutely love how conflicted she is at this point, wanting what she knows is bad for her, but unable to embrace what might be good. That’s what fiction is all about.
Today, I am in heaven.