Reflection on Writing with writes workshop
|Writing with writes workshop
Reflection on the writing process
Unfortunately I became familiar with the site – Writing with Writers too late, when I started working on my Writing Portfolio. I blame myself for not having followed Shoshana's advice to explore this site from the very beginning of the course. While thinking which genre to choose, the first section I decided to get acquainted with was writing book reviews with Rodman Philbrick. I found his review about To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee very interesting, then I continued reading his writing tips and strategies and I could not help regretting that I did not used this site while working on my final assignment in Literary Encounters. To be guided by Philbrick's suggestions would have helped me a lot in writing the analyses of a short story by Hemingway. I made several drafts, revising them endlessly until I finally managed to produce a decent (to my opinion) review. The process turned out to be so exhausting and time consuming for me that it took me time to make myself get to the following portfolio.
When reading Philbrick's tips you agree with everything he suggests, for instance the importance of listing the main points in your notes before you begin writing or getting the main theme of the book across in the beginning of your review. I was so impressed by his guidelines that I nearly made up my mind to choose the genre of book review, but for some reason I gave this idea up, may be because I had had enough of analyzing literature lately. Finally I decided to attempt writing a biography.
The first tip was very helpful in making the choice:
"Select a person you care about. You may either like or dislike your subject, but it is important that you "feel" strongly one way or the other. If you're not interested in the person, you won't enjoy the process of researching and writing about her/him." The person that came to my mind right after reading the a.m. tip was Czech writer Milan Kundera. I became familiar with his fiction about 10 years ago and since then he has become one of my favorite authors. I knew very little about Kundera's life and working on his biography promised to be a good opportunity to fill this gap.
I started with "sniffing around – just like a detective" as Patricia and Fredrick McKissack recommend and researched several sources thoroughly. From the information found on the internet I have constructed a working outline, listing points I should get across in the biography. For this purpose I used the Research Notebook offered by the workshop. I have researched historical events that made great influence on Kundera's works as well as his personal life. I even read several reviews about his novels. After the warm-up I started working on my first draft. I tried to prevent myself from listing facts, I picked the most interesting ones around which I built my biographical sketch.
As to the writers' suggestion to "tell a good story", I am not certain whether I have succeeded in this task; the information available on Kundera's personal life is so limited that I could not focus on a specific event in his life.
As a matter of fact writing a biography lacks subjective viewpoints. However I tried to express my own vision concerning Kundera's novels and his contribution to the world literature. Trying to avoid copying the information which I found through the internet I edited and paraphrased the original text. I got so carried away with writing, I did not pay attention that I have spent almost whole night on revisions and corrections. The workshop proved to be very effective, suggestions given by the Mckissacks were extremely useful, written in a friendly and humorous manner, which turned my writing process into a very pleasant experience. Thank you, Shoshana for introducing us with such a helpful site. I'm sure we will use it in the future in order to improve our as well as our students' writing abilities.