Due Date: Wednesday, April 5
- To learn the good manners necessary to continue your work in a writers' group
- To earn up to twenty (20) bonus points
Means of Evaluation
Here's what's in it for you:
- Five bonus points for posting online
- Five bonus points for each Comment Sandwich
Here's how you get those points.
As painful as the deadlines have been--and as agonizing as the comments are to read--once the session is over, you will find a void where the class has been. You might actually find yourself hungry for the feedback that pushes you towards your personal excellence. But I will no longer be available to you; I will have two new Creative Writing classes, and they take up all my teaching time.
So--what will you do? Some writers just stop writing. I would hate for that to happen to you, especially when you're on a roll and have an option: join a writers' group, like the Florida Writers Association, or create one of your own. That's what I did: there are eight of us, and we beat each other to a pulp. We're coincidentally doing the creative work of our lives...
But first, you must learn how to behave in a writers' group. You had a smidge of practice earlier in the session. Now, we are going to deepen and formalize what writers do when they give their peers honest feedback about their work. By the way, "honest" does not mean "vicious." Comments that cross the line of civility are summarily deleted and lose their eligibility for points.
FYI: I decide where that line is.
So--this assignment is to get you ready for the next phase of your development after this session is over. You will have the opportunity to give feedback, get feedback, and learn a skill set that will make you a welcome participant in the writers' groups to come.
It is time to put your work out there.
You have two full weeks for this assignment, and you want to use them wisely. First, you might take the opportunity to revisit the poem, bringing to it everything you now know--and addressing every horrid comment I have ever made on your work. I have allotted a week to do that work. However, it would be wise to post the poem as soon as possible--at least by next Wednesday and allow the class a full week to offer you comments. Remember that you will begin a new unit during this time. Don't wait until the last second.
Click the "Comments" link at the bottom of this post.
In the "Name" field, type your first name and last initial. Type in your Valencia email Address, but leave the "URL" field blank.
Paste your best and/or favorite poem in the "Comments" box and click "Post." You will be asked to validate your comment by typing a random list of letters and numbers.
After you have posted your own piece, read all of the other posts. This might take a day or two as the shy folks work up the nerve to put themselves out there.
Choose a favorite poem by a classmate, re-read his or her post, and create a perfect "Comment Sandwich." A comment sandwich is the way professional writers give each other feedback. Here's how it works:
- You read the piece and in the first sentence of your response, offer a compliment (word choice, title, line, image--whatever you really admired. Poets need to know what works. Who knows this better than you? ) The compliment is soft, like a piece of bread.
- You then offer a suggestion for improvement. Does the poet's grammar get in the way? Let him or her know. Was the language vague and reportive rather than creative? Did the poet miss an opportunity to show a change in direction? Let him or her know. Did the poet resort to flowery language instead of precise, lyrical language? Let him or her know. This is the "meat."
- Finish with a second compliment, the other slice of "bread." If you liked a particular line, say so. If you think a stanza was strong--say so. I repeat: this is how writers deal with one another in writer's groups where the commitment is to art instead of to self.
- Post this comment sandwich on line.
- Do this for two more poems.
- When other students create comment sandwiches about your work, you post the words "Thank you, _______," even if you hate them and their comments. The only venue for bad manners and temper tantrums is a Gordon Ramsey restaurant--or an episode of "Real Housewives/Mobwives/Basketball Wives/Househusbands," etc.
Reward for Participation
The bonus-point breakdown is as follows: you'll get five points for posting and five points for each comment sandwich, up to three. Yes, that's right: you can earn up to twenty bonus points by participating in this assignment.
Get in that show ring. Show us what you're made of.