#SOL14 - On Being a Writer

Last night I (finally) received feedback on the revised version of my first short story in the class I'm taking. To be honest, my first short story in years.

It began as an activity on creativity in class -- playing with words as a group, choosing five collectively, and each writing our own story from those words.

One of the words gave us the setting: Tuscany.

The rest of the story sort of just tumbled out: a woman, something precious lost, the inability to recover.

After class, I couldn't shake the story from my mind.

Our second paper was due in two weeks, so I asked if I could continue working on it and turn that in for my paper.

I wanted to keep the story short, but add enough detail to let the reader experience the trauma the main character went through. I researched Florence, hoping a reader would find themselves in the streets of Florence and not realize the writer had never been there. I worried and toiled over my word choices, unsure that I was conveying the emotion that felt so important to me.

I listened to classical music written by Italian composers. For whatever reason, it helped. I found a piece by Resphigi titled Pines of Rome, and the second movement, Pines Near a Catacomb seemed to mimic the flow of the story. It was perfect.

I reworked my story, including a few musical terms, and kept the length just about right for reading it from start to finish in the time Pines Near a Catacomb takes to reach the final note.

The Husband listened to me read it endlessly, a friend read it and offered feedback, and I tweaked it a bit more, wanting each word to have meaning. No fluff.

When our professor handed back our papers last night, he asked a few of us to read to the class. I was one of the few. I hadn't expected that. My heart raced.

Sharing isn't exactly my strongest quality.

But I read, fighting to keep my voice steady.

The feedback was illuminating. They were shocked I'd never been to Italy and pained by the heartache my main character faces. Their feedback was detailed and purposeful and exactly what I needed to hear. This is why I went back to school. These moments, to build my craft and my confidence. It's worth everything.


  1. Thanks for sharing the whole process you went through to write your short story. I also find music inspires my writing, it just seems to speak to my soul. Your ability to take constructive feedback and learn from it is a "strength". Love the pic of the note from your teacher!

  2. So proud of my girls, both of you. Kelly, your creativity is amazing; I'm jealous.

    Feel better baby.

  3. This is a great anecdote about the power of revision. I'm in the middle of redistributing my students' short stories and they are noticing things (because I've had them for so long - they each wrote like 8 pages, some 20! Last time I don't give a page limit? Probably not...) that they wouldn't otherwise notice without the time necessary between drafts. Awesome job!

  4. I love how music helped you fully find your story. Keep plowing!