For the past four years, I have been the thick-skinned, tough who could take anything in workshop. You don't like my story? No problem. Hate the language or structure of my poem? Water off a duck's back. I could take the helpful advice and shrug off the dross. I was made of steel (for the most part, anyway.) I even held my own in the blood bath that was my first MFA residency workshop. I survived being told by a professor that there's no such thing as a successful child narrator. (Poor Laura and her pastoral musings.)
So what happened to that person? When did I change into this puddle of needy goo? I've already written about my struggle with the voices in my head (critics, not crazy voices) that were slowing down my writing. Unfortunately, the craziness doesn't stop there. After receiving the critiques of my first two packets from my professor, I completely melted down. Both times.
So what changed? I've decided it's a medical condition. To quote one of my favorite tv shows, I'm in the Jon Voight way (think Alien,) and it's starting to affect my brain. I've heard of women complaining of pregnancy brain, forgetting everything from their keys to the names of their children. I haven't forgotten anything (yet, don't worry, I'm not being smug), but I have morphed into an overly-sensitive, emotional wreck. To those considering an MFA program, may I suggest that pregnancy hormones and professor critiques are a lethal combination.
After packet #2 came back, I ended up on the phone with the long-suffering Steve crying because there was nothing in the house that I wanted to eat and Leslie hated my story. Sure this was an overstatement. Yes, I knew it was crazy and irrational while I saying it. Didn't matter. It took me a good two days to recover from that little episode. Then I had to psyche myself up for packet #3.
Fast forward to today. I got my email from my professor regarding my third packet, which contained a rewrite of the story from packet #2. I did better this time. I was actually able to focus mostly on the good stuff she said in the opening paragraph of her critique, rather than the two pages of suggestions. Maybe I'm growing. No wait, that's just my waistline.