My friend Cole forwarded me a great link today. As some of you probably know I’m trying to be a writer (whatever that means, “trying to be”, when does one get to say, I am a writer! I vote after publication, or if it’s your profession, no? Well I’m neither published or an employed writer, so hence “trying”). But I meet with a great group of writers where we present our work and critique and comment on each other’s efforts. It’s intimidating and very helpful.
A few years back Cole lent me Dave Egger’s book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Eggers is a great, great writer and the book was funny, heavy and a nostalgic for me since Eggers is writing from the Bay Area (Shout out!), my childhood home.
The link Cole sent me today was from Egger’s Publishing House, McSweeney’s – Specifically from their daily updated literature and humor site: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Which by the by, has just the greatest origin (read about Timothy McSweeney: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McSweeney’s).
In light of having my own reading/workshop group and having those days where nothing I write makes any sense, this forward killed me.
My favorite is the one about the cheetos!
COMMENTS WRITTEN BY ACTUAL STUDENTS EXTRACTED FROM WORKSHOPPED MANUSCRIPTS AT A MAJOR UNIVERSITY.
COLLECTED BY TANYA REY
“This character seems more like a retired librarian than a former terrorist.”
“Is this a typo or are you being experimental?”
“Maybe a little less time should be spent describing the Cheetos in this scene.”
“The jungle images and alien abduction seem to clash a bit here.”
“I wonder if the sentence about killing pregnant women is too much, or if it should just be explained more.”
“There’s a lot of astral projection in this story.”
“You talk about pregnant raindrops and chaos and auditory canals and ‘the passing of time’ as ‘an orifice,’ when you could really just be talking about humidity and ears.”
“This character seems like a huge jerk for an otherwise savvy lady to bring home.”
“Weren’t these characters hurting each other in the last version of this story? Bring back the violence!”
“Apes, aliens, then dead vampire family = too much Sci-Fi.”
“You should really think about what it’s like to find your daughter in bed with a butcher knife before you do the rewrite of this.”
“The rules of the game, the rules by which you’re breaking the rules, should be perfectly clear to the reader. In this story, they are not.”
“I love that everybody in this story has the same name, but it was a bit confusing.”
“There should be a moment of deep consciousness when this character is hit with the taser gun. Maybe he can recall having sex a few hours ago while being tased?”
“Normally I would assume that there was some kind of printing error, but since you’re messing around with other elements like that in this story I tried to figure out if it meant something, and if I was supposed to guess what was missing, and I couldn’t really come to any conclusions about it.”
“It’s your story, your voice, your choices, and I don’t want to question them, but why these words?”
“The problem is I have all these questions I don’t necessarily want you to answer for me. I raise these questions to let you know that there were questions, and if you had intended me to perceive the answers to any of them, I didn’t.”
“You probably don’t need about half of what’s written here.”