December 26, 2001

As I come up on ten years since I graduated from college, there are still a few classes and professors that have stayed with me, having taught me at least one valuable lesson about writing, literature, or life in general. Alan Michael Parker taught me a few things about dramatic structure and cliché avoidance in his Creative Writing class, but more importantly he taught me a lesson about audience.

It was a small class, about 15 students, and when the time came to discuss and critique your story you were not allowed to say a single word or utter one sound. It could be torture, sitting there in silence while the class went on, theorizing about your beliefs and intentions, knowing that you could set the matter straight with just a few words. I distinctly remember seeing one classmate, who could only sit there helplessly, practically cry out in pain as we dissected (incorrectly, in his eyes) his work. The lesson was that when we write we have exactly one chance to tell our story. Whatever message the reader receives is the result of the words we put down on the page, and only that.

Anyway, I keep forcing myself to remember this as I read through the Metafilter comments about my AWCA story below. Torture, I tells ya.

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