Tonight my essay was up for workshopping. Yes, not only did I manage to finish a personal essay, but I actually put it out there for others to see, for the purpose of having feedback. So, a bit nervous, off I went to class at the Lighthouse Writers, waiting for my turn. Feeling my knees shaking (I can seriously be so ridiculous), I volunteered to go first; I was that student who wants to get it over with.
And so I read a passage, breathing my way through it, and waited. I breathed through the pauses when people didn't seem as though they were going to find anything positive to say. As people spoke, I focused my eyes on the pages of my essay, taking notes so I could simply listen and not look, afraid of seeing too much silence. And like my students, once the critique was finished, what immediately came to mind were all the places that demanded my attention, the disconnects, the uncertain messages, the undeveloped; the places that worked, the praise, had receded layers beneath the criticism. Somehow, I had forgotten my advice to students: "A workshop is a place to understand how readers see your piece, a place to take pieces that need readers." Secretly, I fantasized that tonight everyone would stand up and applaud the essay, tell me it's perfect and ready for publication.
It took several hours to get over myself, reading and re-reading the comments. Eventually, I could distance a bit and realize that most of what had been pointed out I had thought at one point or another about my essay, just perhaps not as clearly as others could articulate. And after that, I got back to writing again, jotting down some notes for my next essay.
I have already succeeded in the class, since my goals are fairly quite simple. I have completed a piece of writing, shared a piece of writing, and intimately realized exactly what my students must experience each time their work is up for workshopping.