I Hate This Prompt!

A Prompt from Writing Class: Describe your Writing Group

I absolutely hate this prompt. It is something I don’t like to do – get so up close and personal with my subject.
The group began several writing classes ago, when I first met Marlena. She and I were part of a class in the Sarah Lawrence Writing Group entitled Finding Our Voices. She wrote a piece in response to another prompt – to go out in the world and observe. She observed folk working behind the counter in what was probably a diner, and she captured the close moments of a tip of knife cutting food. I loved her piece, and then her larger work, about her childhood in Panama. At the end of the semester she and I, along with a few others, began to meet for informal writing sessions. We continued to take classes together, one with the well- known author Sally Koslow, where we met Nan and Jessica.
Jessica wrote a piece about a little girl who played cash register, a vignette I loved which later surfaced as part of her first novel. Nan was famous for her wry essays, fashion sense, her wit, and her incredible support. When I read my work she raved and made me feel so good. Jessica also supported and raved about my work, along with Marlena. I was beginning to feel like Shakespeare, or at least Margaret Mitchell.
Buoyed by all this praise, I got the courage to join a class dedicated to novel writing. Before the group met I arrived early, and sat down with a beautiful young woman who introduced herself as Eileen. She’d already written a novel, she told me, but wanted to workshop her next one, Worth the Weight. I told her I had a novel in progress too, Ms. Murphy’s Makeover, and she agreed to read it. When we met a short while later in a coffee shop she had not only read my novel, she had prepared detailed notes. Again, lots of support. (By the way, Worth the Weight has recently been published by Diversion Press.)
Riding the wave of unmitigated support, I presented my novel to the class dedicated to novel writing, led by Jimin. When asked if I wanted criticism, I said, bring it on. I was prepared for accolades. Alas, not so much this time. For the first time my book got some negative remarks, and for the first time my confidence, or over-confidence, was shaken. But tough love is still love. For example, Ahmed, who was writing a satirical piece about Pakistan, was forthright in saying that my book was repetitive. At first I was crestfallen, but I realized he was right. I really appreciate his honesty.
Jimin, our teacher, who could never be other than sweet, was incredibly generous with her time, and helped me organize the book differently in a private session, helping me to look for through threads. A new member of our group, Ines, joined us the next semester. Her writing, about Sao Paolo, seemed nothing short of amazing, and her personality, warm and generous, lit up the class. And then along came Rickey – that prolific, kind, and sizzling writer, who has offered support and help as well. Can I forget our other teacher Pat, who co-taught with Jimin? Never! Her firecracker comments and true kindness infused our class sessions. I loved her peremptory comments, her insistence that she was right, her mock battles with Jimin, the good cop, over control of time.
I may hate writing about this group, but I love being part of it.


8 thoughts on “I Hate This Prompt!

  1. Jimin Han February 16, 2015 / 5:21 pm

    Love how much you protest and then write a beautiful piece. Lol. “Tough love is still love.” !!!


    • Jackie February 16, 2015 / 6:00 pm

      But TLC feels so much better. Good to have a balance of both.


  2. Eileen Palma February 16, 2015 / 5:23 pm

    For someone who hated the prompt, you did a masterful job of writing about it. I was amazed how you were able to write about everyone in the time it took me to write about only two group members. Love this piece and I love our group!


  3. Jackie February 16, 2015 / 5:58 pm

    Thank you, Eileen. The feeling – about wonderful us – is mutual.


  4. Nancy Flanagan February 16, 2015 / 8:57 pm

    Beautiful writing! Your work is always so evocative, Jackie. Miss seeing you.


    • Jackie February 18, 2015 / 11:30 am

      Thank you, Nancy. I hope you will be able to join us again soon. We all miss you.


  5. daisybuchanon February 18, 2015 / 11:24 am

    Your writing, as always, is sensitive, alive with colorful details, and distinguished by your wonderful sense of humor.


    • Jackie February 18, 2015 / 11:34 am

      Hello Daisy! Welcome to my blog – so happy to see your name here. BTW, I’ve always wondered – how is( life after Gatsby? You certainly can claim Vic-tory.

      Liked by 1 person

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