Failing Together–Why I love Workshops

I really enjoyed the concept that was covered in this week’s reading if Naming What We Know. Maybe I enjoyed it because it speaks directly to my uncertainty, mentions that we are never finished learning writing in the same way that we will never stop working towards being an adult. And maybe I like this because I feel like if you have to say you are an amazing writer, you probably aren’t, and if you have to say that you’re an adult, you probably aren’t. In 4.0, Rose wrote, “Thus, a writer never becomes a perfect writer who already knows how to write anything and everything” (59). This feels intertwined (like almost everything does) with my work in the writing center. We are not working to make a perfect paper or a perfect writer—they don’t exist. We are just trying to progress. It is this idea of progress, that we strive for. It is what we write for. In 4.1, Bazerman and Tinberg spoke to my love of objective writing when they claimed: “They [the writing] now have been externalized into an independent artifact that can be examined, revised, or otherwise worked on by the writer, collaborators, or other people” (61). This sort of objective separation from you, the author, and your work helps remind me that revisions are not personal. I am not “killing my darlings”, I am just revising my sentences to be more effective. It is not a hand that is being cut off, but unnecessary lines in a poem—things I don’t need to say in writing. Another interesting concept that quelled my anxieties surrounding writing was the topic of failure addressed in 4.2, with Brooke and Carr writing: “Often, the writing we encounter has been heavily revised and edited and is sometimes the result of a great deal of failure” (62). This resonated with me because I, like some writers who come into the writing center, look at their first draft as their final draft— failure is not an option. Now, looking back, I realize that without failure, without unbiased workshops, and without the desire to learn, I never would have progressed. I suppose this is why I am working towards becoming a professor—I want to tell younger me that I am not worthless if my first draft isn’t anything close to my final draft. Sometimes, I absentmindedly forget about this and get so upset that my poems can not go viral (like Sabrina Benaim on Youtube), that I am not Billy Collins and will not make money from poetry. However, I am sure Billy Collins, an incredibly accomplished poet, doesn’t just wake up in the morning, churn out a book of poetry before breakfast, while sitting by the ocean, and dubs it a best seller. Ex:

…or maybe he does?

He has editors, mentors, friends, family, peers, and publishers to run his poems through before he even considers placing it into a collection. If he can have outside help, why can’t I? I can. This is where my fascination with workshop courses comes into play, and why I want to incorporate this into my FYC courses. I want to facilitate the idea that failing is fine, in fact, it is good. Maybe you need to fail and revise a million times before you land on your final draft—maybe we all do.

Works Cited:

  • Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth A. Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. Classroom ed., Utah State University Press, 2016.

3 Replies to “Failing Together–Why I love Workshops”

  1. Lauren, I like that you used this threshold concept as a jumping-off point for discussing the importance of workshops, because you’re right–writing is a social, collaborative process. How would you connect this idea of workshopping to the previous post about the role of identity in writing?

  2. Failure is so very important. It’s humbling. And obviously, without failure, we would never learn what doesn’t work. The terrible truth behind that, though, is that we will never stop making mistakes or missteps. Personally, I think that process of failing and improving is what makes writing so rewarding.

  3. ‘Sometimes, I absentmindedly forget about this and get so upset that my poems can not go viral (like Sabrina Benaim on Youtube), that I am not Billy Collins and will not make money from poetry. ”

    This is so relatable. I think a lot of writers need to hear this sometimes. I also agree about the first drafts vs. the final drafts.
    Looking back, I can’t believe some of the papers I turned in. I needed revisions!

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