Monday, March 07, 2011

Between Residencies: Workshop, Critiquing, and Reading

It's taken me awhile to post this because I've been busy, doing...well, all of the above. And a comment on an older Low-Residency post reminded me that I was going to fill you all in on what happens after the low-residency residency.

For Queens, we have a submission schedule for our pieces and our critiques for our small workshop groups. We've also recently received our May residency reading list, from which we choose two works to write response papers.  At a casual glance of the pile o' books on my coffee table, there's about a dozen.

It's a mixed bag of genres - fiction (novels and short stories) poetry, critical theory, and non-fiction, plus 2 movies and online screenplays - because we're required to read for our craft, plus for additional seminars outside of chosen genre. So far, I've read 1 1/2 novels -- and need to really pick up the pace by the end of March.

Last week, March 1st, I made my second short story submission to my small group via email. Likewise, my group members did the same. Tomorrow, March 8th, our critiques of our group/pods are due.

I've spent the last week reading through the pieces. The first read is casual, where I noted general first impressions (great scene! love the imagery! or this confused me! -- at specific points) The second read, I'm a bit more critical, looking to see where things need a little work. Again, I make notes (using Track Changes). Tonight - after one more read through and pushing toward tomorrow's deadline - I'll write a 300 - 500 critical response to each group member's submission. They will do the same for me and email them. Next week, we receive our response from our professor/mentor/instructor.

Then April 1, it's time for a brand new submission - either a short story or chapter (for us fiction folks). Generally,  this isn't the time to re-submit revisions, unless there is a huge, major change and something that's been discussed with the instructor. The goal is to write something new for each emailed submission.

At the end of May, we return to Charlotte for our next residency. By then, I will have completed two response papers based on this semesters readings, and will bring two new un-submitted pieces for large and small group workshops. I should have also read and viewed everything on the list, to be prepared for seminars for each topic.

The question from the previous comment was whether I felt that critique responses take away from writing and reading time. Well, yes. But so does going to the grocery store, or going to my day job, or spending an inordinate amount of time on Twitter :-)  I chose Queens because of the workshop format and because I believe that the critique process is important.  I think there are other posts here about balancing out critiques -- taking what is useful, what you need from them, incorporating what works for you. And when you critique, to be polite and professional. (Queens gives students a detailed handbook about the workshop/critique process). The goal is to help everyone improve their craft.


ApplyingGraphite said...

Good stuff, Sheila. Thank you for posting it.

Sheila Lamb said...

Thanks! Hope it helps let people know what goes on outside of the residencies :-)

Anonymous said...

Great post, Sheila! It sounds like a great program! Good luck with your writing/reading!

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