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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Friday, May 6, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 261

Sitting in the editor's seat is tough. I only had a few pieces to review, but it was interesting to me how much of my own taste I brought to the process.

Of course I would, what else do I have?

I did a semester of independent study one year back in art school, advised by Jack Portland (who was later on my thesis committee). I had been having trouble getting good feedback on this obsession with series of boxes. Some I made from scratch, others were cigar boxes that I would fill with stories (hah! foreshadowing in the longest most boring story of my twenties and thirties ever) or photos and stories. My lit teacher didn't feel qualified to evaluate them as "art works" and my photo teacher didn't know how to speak to the writing component. So Jack said, how about you just make them for a semester and you tell me what they're about.

In one of our first meetings, I confessed to Jack that I didn't think I knew anymore what made art good or bad. I only knew what I liked, and I wasn't even sure why. Jack said that that was what school was for: to learn what made art good and what made it bad--that there was a language to describe that, that I needed to learn. I would still carry with me what I liked and didn't. And he said that when I was done, hopefully I could speak to good art I liked as well as good art I didn't like. I could still like bad art all I wanted, too, but I would know why it didn't "work."

This is how I feel about poetry all the time, and these creative nonfiction pieces I have just read. I know what I like about them, and what I don't--but I'm not sure I am qualified yet to translate that into an assessment of good (for this journal) or bad. Ultimately, I will go with my reading and prior workshops and etc, etc. But it makes it easier to picture my essays not making it past a reader based on nothing more than preference.

"Another essay about birds and flowers?" Pass.

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