No apologies

I’ve been working for the past week on an exercise for my class that really dealt a blow to my recently-bolstered confidence. I’ll be posting it, as I’ve done with the others, but I’m struggling to bring myself to do it. So I’m just going to be honest here first.

I had a teacher, a long time ago in a different life, who made us read our writing aloud to the class. One thing he was adamant about was that you should never apologize for your work, no matter how much you disliked it, no matter how little or how much effort went into it. Never. His argument was that your work should stand on its own, avoid paratextual context like, “Sorry, this may not be exactly the assignment,” or, “Yeah, I only had a couple of hours to knock this out.” Good or bad, if you ever want to send your writing out into the world, you have to know that such context can never go with it. Most of the time, anyway.

To be frank, I never cared much for that teacher, for many reasons, but that is a lesson that I have carried far beyond his classroom, and far beyond the creative writing process. I try my best to apply it to the work I do at my office and to the way I interact with people. The things I do, the things I say, while sometimes may constitute an apology, I can never be guaranteed that it would be heard or accepted. So I try to let my works and actions speak for themselves, for better or for worse.

That’s why, with previous class exercises I’ve done this semester, I’ve not also posted the exercises that prompted them, though they would probably make more sense with that context. And I’ve appreciated them on their own and have hoped you would, too.

I’m not writing this post as an apology for the upcoming piece. I’m not. But the struggle I’ve had with writing it and coming to accept it for what it is has reminded me of this little rule that is not so simple. I believe it has made me a better writer and a better person.

So there you go. Please disregard this post when reading “Gone” (my next post). My take on the work should have nothing to do with how you take it as a reader.



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