The first feedback …

This is a diary entry I wrote some time back. It seemed like the perfect piece to kick-off this blog.

I am writing this now, in this moment, so that down the track my more experienced, more writerly self can read it back and laugh about my humble beginnings.

What momentous event has driven the need for this historical account?

I’ve just received my first feedback on a creative writing assignment. My first, ridgy-didge feedback on a piece of ridgy-didge writing. It’s my first creative writing assignment and I somehow, remarkably, against all odds, passed. And passed well.

Like many wannabe-writers, I have long fancied myself as having what it takes to ‘do writing’ as a job. I wasn’t so arrogant as to think that I had nothing to learn—I had enrolled in uni after all—but I did think that buried underneath all of the self-doubt and introversion and rejection of social media ‘performance’, there was a writer waiting to be born.

It was this belief and this wanting that made the experience of my first assignment particularly harrowing.

The inspiration pieces didn’t resonate. The writing felt forced. I second guessed myself throughout the writing process. I did so many writes and rewrites and changes back to what it was, that in the end I submitted early just to get it out of my sight.

It was an entire week later before I had the courage to pick it up and read it through again. And I HATED it. It was full of typos. It was clunky. It just was not good. This worried me. Whenever I had gone back and read my work in the past, I had been surprised by how good it was. Not this time. This time I was shocked by how bad it was. The butterflies set off on the circular ritual at that point and they didn’t stop until three weeks later when the results finally came in.

Heart ready to burst out of my throat I clicked on the file to get my mark. It looked like a distinction. Was that a distinction? Yep, I think it was.

Forcing myself to breathe, I clicked through to read the feedback. Typos abounded. I knew that and I could deal with that. But there was also a healthy sprinkling of grammatical errors. This was gutting. I prided myself on my grammar and now I’d been totally shown up.

The worst was yet to come though. I had gone over the word limit. WTH? My embarrassment was merging into indignation as I composed my email to the tutor. ‘Please explain how the word limit works because I seem to have misunderstood’.

I didn’t end up sending the email. Just as well because I was in the wrong. I had messed up. I had interpreted the overall word count as the word count just for the writing piece. The final three paragraphs of my assignment weren’t read, weren’t considered, weren’t graded.

I tried to get some perspective. Okay, so I submitted a piece that didn’t look as though it had been proofread (it had, I’d just done it in my sleep); and I exceeded the word limit by a lot; and I still got a distinction.

Okay. That’s okay. Maybe I can do this.

Maybe I can be a writer.

Maybe somewhere, underneath it all, I do have what it takes.

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