by Kari Diane Pike
One of the things I enjoy most about ANWA chapter meetings is critiques. I can learn more about the writing process in one thirty to forty-five minute session than I learned in an entire semester of college English. Of course, when it comes time to put my own writing out there, I'm not quite so enthusiastic about the process. I'm less inclined to seek out pain. At the same time, growth is painful. And I want to grow as a writer. Actually, I want more than that. I want to bloom.
I'm ashamed to admit that it's been almost a year since I wrote anything besides school papers and posts for this blog. After being humiliated in front of a writing class last year, I've felt like I just don't have what it takes to be a good writer.
A couple of months ago, I mustered up the courage to share one of my essays during a chapter meeting. I knew I was in a safe place and that the critiques would be gentle...but honest and forthright. My friends did not let me down. Who could predict that what turned out to be essentially the same advice, could have such a different affect on me? Instead of telling me that my writing was craptastic and that I just didn't get it, I heard that what I wrote was interesting and thought provoking -- it just lacked a special something -- that one line of truth that could set my writing apart and make it riveting and breathtaking.
I've been struggling to find that truth inside of me and trying to learn how to bring it out. Then yesterday, I came across this article: http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/12174 in which "A Scholar Tells Why Joseph Smith's First Vision Account is Remarkable."
I'm not trying to compare my writing to that of a prophet. That's not the point at all. But Brother King explains how and why the telling of the First Vision deeply impressed a scholar who was not inclined to be impressed. He approaches the account as if it were a scholarly essay. He critiques each verse and points out the simplicity, humility, coolness, and rationality. He describes modifiers, points out humor, and defines good prose. Arthur shows how Joseph Smith simply told the truth.
I'm still searching for my "truth," (in a writing sense -- I know the Gospel is true!) and I am grateful for good friends and the opportunity to learn and grow, knowing all the time that no matter what, I am loved. Thanks ANWA!