My Critique of Critiques + My Issues with Workshop

Workshop yesterday kinda sucked cuz i thought people were being assholes to me. it sort of felt like people were getting in their last jabs or something. and i'm kinda astonished how my shit gets torn apart the most--no exaggeration--when other writers are turning in deeply flawed drafts of 30 pages stories that don't even have characters, or stories about anthropomorphic bumblee bees, or essays about being a writer (like that's never been done), and they get off easy, and this just proves to me that workshop is sort of like Nietzsche's slave revolt morality theory, and i kinda hate it to be honest. so what, because people write things that don't take any risks whatsoever, we reward that kind of calculated behavior because it doesn't provoke us in any way, it doesnt' offend us in any way. jarrett can tell me there's no STORY in my novel because he's read 4 chapters of it, but it's impossible to make that conclusion without reading my novel since the structure creates a lot of the action, and besides, there are plenty of character-based novels, look at the catcher in the fucking rye, it's a character-based story with some events, but most of them don't matter (except the merry-go-round scene + the ambiguous forehead-touching scene). so, just because i'm not insecure enough to defend my writing, or send people a 2 page explanation of what i'm trying to achieve with these two chapters doesn't constitute a lack of a story. it constitutes a work in progress that is by all common measures, unorthodox.

The other reason i'm irritated, is because many of the things workshop hated most about my writing, are the VERY THINGS that have been published.

"one love" was universally rejected by my classmates because car jackers can't have political motivations or care about social justice--which is a racist thing to say i think, but ink collective picked it up and loves it, and that's a print/web journal out of boston.

"Logograms" was torn apart by my classmates and yet The Pittsburgh Quarterly picked up an older, and much less polished version of that chapter cuz they thought it was great.

"16 love songs" was pretty much obliterated by workshop and yet valerie sayers thinks it's the the most promising and publishable short story i've written in the past year.

this leads me a few conclusions:

1. workshop doesn't help writers get published, and that is our ultimate goal, and in that way it's failing writers. it DOES help with craft, to an extent. but it hasn't helped me get published at all. it's done quite the opposite.

2. young writers don't necessarily know what's publishable because none of us have really published that much.

3. the things workshop nerds get upset about are not the things alot of readers get upset about.

4. there is a crucial difference between what a journal editor wants and what a workshop wants.

5. workshop induces writers to write safely and pre-emptively so they can avoid blood orgies at their expense.

6. the point of fiction workshop HAS TO BE helping writers become better writers, which means, making suggestions that help a writer do his thing better. and yet, so much of the criticism i've been getting is telling me to be a different writer, telling me to get rid of myself in my writing, but our self is in all our writing in some way, and second, readers don't know the writers personally and noone gets mad at salinger for using his life in his stories, or rick moody for writing about connecticut, or nabokov for writing about being a russian lit prof.

7. workshop is textual psychoanalysis, and that's fucked up.

8. workshop was made for short stories, not novels. you can't single out a few chapters and made dogmatic statements about the novel, that's like picking out a few states in the west coast and telling me your opinions on America. that's absurd.

9. i'm done with workshop and i'm so stoked about that cuz i really want to spend the rest of my time working on my novel, a novel everyone seems to criticize, and yet, a novel that several literary agents are interested in. and even if they don't pick it up, that interest is a good sign.

for all these reasons, i'm wiping my hand of fiction workshop. it has its merits for sure, but i feel like i'm over it. i'll exchange my stuff with a few perceptive bright readers, that's enough.