by Tasha Seegmiller
Last month, I attended my first residency for an MFA in Writing from Pacific University. While there was some trepidation about going back to school at 40, and a bit about how the workload is all going to fit into my life, the main nervousness was surrounding how the instructors and members of my critique group were going to respond to my writing.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve sat live while people talk about my work – I have the good fortune to be a member of a critique group that meets in person every two weeks, each of us critiquing 15 pages for the others and receiving feedback in return. I’ve come to understand that logic and reality don’t always mesh.
Very quickly, it was clear that the critique I thought I was going to receive was not what the instructor wanted to talk about. And I’m of the very strong opinion that when someone takes time to talk about and work through your writing, your job is to listen, take notes, ask for clarification, and then allow time to process.
Still, sitting there, I could feel all the defenses within me clamoring to jump out, to rescue, to protect.
This is a lesson that almost all writers are aware they need to learn. They are probably also aware they have learned it. But I also think learning to sit with the discomfort of a critique is not a lesson we grasp after the first instruction. With that in mind, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to be okay with this difficult part of being a writer:
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