My three hours

So…I didn’t have to wait as long as I thought because I switched with “Fairy Girl.” That meant that feedback day was today.
***
When I defended my thesis, my supervisor looked at me and said, “For the next three hours, you will be doing something that will probably not happen again, you will be talking about your work. Everyone in there will be focused on your work and you get to be the center of attention. It probably won’t happen again.”

Well, it did. Not for three hours mind you, but for one whole hour, 8 people sat around a table and we talked about my novel. And, just now, for 45 minutes, I got to talk about two short stories and the novel with the workshop’s facilitator Alan Cumyn. And, it wasn’t horrible. Instead, it was self-affirming. People really liked my characters’ voices about as much as I do. I was able to convey their distinct natures and people were compelled to read more. I was given some really good feedback regarding questions that I had posed already to myself. And, when it was done, I didn’t feel like my work was worthless. Instead, I had this feeling that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

That is not to say that I don’t have a lot to learn. I think that I need to reconsider how I say certain things. I have a bad habit of telling things as they are, rather than showing things in a new and interesting way. That seems to be one of the side effects of first person narration which I am prone to. The difference here is that I don’t feel like I am a bad writer just that I have some not-so-great habits that I will have to change. Much like anything else in life.

Cumyn and I went over this story that I wrote a couple of years ago about my great-grandmother and her glass eye. He gave some wonderful feedback and actually said that it was “delightful.” That just made me want to jump up and down like a giddy little school girl. Delightful. Delightful. Delightful. Just hope and promise. A story that I can look over and maybe even try and shop out.

The question is why I need to have someone tell me that it is good enough to do that? I still don’t see my work on their own merits. I am happy and excited today because a published author. One who has been nominated for Gillers and Governor Generals awards told me that there was merit in something that I wrote. And, the feedback he provided was constructive but not detrimental. Instead, it was insightful and useful.

The question remains: Will there ever be a time when I won’t feel that I need someone else’s pat on the back to appreciate my work?

But for now. Today. I feel good about the work that I am doing. That there is something good among the stuff that might not be ready for the world to see. But, that, perhaps, one day…it just might be.

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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