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Humility and Audacity
chaco
liz_scanlon

I had coffee this morning with my newish department head at ACC.
She's the bomb.
Smart and calm and assured and idea-centered.

The kind of person with whom you can talk about real stuff and not get rattled

So we were talking about teaching.
And, in particular, about teaching creative work within the confines of an academic environment.

We touched on deadlines and grades.
We touched on craft.
We touched on clever assignments.

And then we settled into how we might help students come to something deeper than just a class -- a practice that will extend way beyond December and will allow their writing to become not individual "assignments" but rather bigger works in progress, full of possibility.

The only way to do this, as far as either of us could see, is to encourage openness to revision.

If students aren't receptive to the concept of revision, willing to listen to critiques and suggestions, and ready to take on the actual practice, then everything they write is sort of a one-shot deal -- potentially kind of vivid but quick to fizzle.

And of course the same is true for all of us.
Getting stuck in our own stuff and being unwilling to listen, tweak, undo or mess with means that it will never evolve like it might've.
And, likewise, getting paralyzed by workshops, critiques or requests for revisions stops us from fully realizing the possibility of a piece.

So what Charlotte recommends to her students is that they come to the process with a balance of humility and audacity.

Humility = willingness to listen, openness to change, acceptance of critique
Audacity = fearlessness, relentlessness, self-confidence

Most of us tend to fall a little too far on one side of the teeter-totter, but I think she's right.
We need both to grow our work as big as it can be.

I'm telling my students that and I'm telling myself...


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As one engulfed in a revision, I so needed this. I think I'll tape the words "humility" and "audacity" to my computer screen. xoxox

Just what I needed to hear today. Humility and audacity. Yes, I'll take those. Thanks!

Thanks for sharing that great advice. I think all of us teeter totter with it, sometimes daily.

One of my friends whose daughter was involved in ballet for many years, but left it behind as she focuses on chemistry in college, says that what her girl really took from those years is how to take criticism. To see the criticism re the art, what she did, and not about her self or soul. How to keep on.

Tanita Says :)

(Anonymous)
How exciting that this is something you get to talk about within the confines of an educational institution. We were privileged to be able to revise together in graduate school, but I've found my writing group has really taught me to hit my stride. It took me a long time to realize that the genius isn't what's on the page, but it's within, and it's OKAY to hit delete. The story's in ME, and the paper isn't holy ground.

Audacity is hard. But worthwhile.

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