Courtesy of Deviant Art
So I’ve been a little negligent with my life, loves, and blog friends lately. You can thank the Prince of Darkness for that. Let me explain.
I’ve been taking a course this semester that has literally kicked my arse. A short story workshop that should have been more appropriately named Sadism 101. I have been spending all of my time either creating stories to please my very-hard-to-please professor or doing wasteful, unimportant things like eating, sleeping and trying to ensure my mind doesn't go mad. I thought the workshop a slam-dunk because I think I do alright in this area; oh, silly, silly girl. Little did I know Satan would be teaching the course. The man took pleasure in making us sweat and telling us time and again that our submissions were shit. There were only a "handful of formidable writers" in class, myself included, (his words not mine, and at least we agreed on something) and although he would comment time and again that I wrote very well, had a vivid imagination, and showed a clear desire and willingness to write pieces that were worthy, he had a problem with my writing nonetheless because it was filled with too much symbolism, allegory, and tended to be on the side of complex and sophisticated. Oh, this is going to be fun.
First submission he didn't like and he felt it was unfinished (okay, in retrospect, I concur). Next.
Second submission and one of my favorites (and I will stand by it as being one of my best - it had a solid beginning, middle and end, it had conflict, resolution, strong character development and depth; it was dead on), but unfortunately it was allegorical and symbolic once again and he hated it. With a passion. *sigh* He nearly had a coronary trying to explain it to me, "allegory and symbolism went out in the 18th century!" Is he for real?
But he wasn't finished yet, "People found it hard to read then and still find it hard to read now. Although your piece is well written," (I think he would say this to soften the massive verbal blow that always followed), "it fails the reader. As a reader, if at the end I am suddenly hit with the fact that this was an allegorical story all along and oh, how very clever and smart you are, then it fails because now I feel stupid. And, if your intent is to make the reader feel stupid, then you’ve succeeded."
I look at him blankly trying hard to keep my homicidal tendencies in check. But, he wasn’t finished. Nope. Not by a long shot, "Well, let’s not go by me. Let’s take a poll to see how many of your peers liked it and, most importantly, got it."
Ninety to ninety five percent of the class loved it and, guess what, they all got it. That only caused him to be further infuriated and he proceeded to slam me to the wall.
"Oh, I see, I am the stupid one then. Very well, but it’s still shit."
Great. Now he really hates me. I go to the required one-on-one tutorial all students must have to meet with him.
"I’d like you to write something more along the lines of a fable, fantasy or science fiction. Let's try that, shall we?”
Terrific. I've never attempted any of those genres because it's not my thing and now what he's really intimating is that I have to write something he likes otherwise I'm screwed, right? Great. Give me some needles quick because I’m using them to stick them in my eyes. That would be far less painful.
I become stuck. Mentally anguished and creatively stuck. I can’t get a trickle of fantasy, science fiction or children’s story from this brain of mine. I eat. A lot. I watch TV. A lot. Okay, so this is looking and feeling a lot like depression. I curse the man each morning when I wake and each night when another unproductive day in writing has ended. I read other students’ submissions. Some are good; really, really good. Yet, some are not. Actually, some are really bad. Dude, give me a break here. You can’t grade my allegorical-inspired stories that happen to be beautiful in language and depth, but you can grade this elementary garbage?
I ask what was wrong with the latest submission, "Again, you are an inventive and excellent writer. But I do not want allegory." Okay then, two words: bite me.
An idea sparks. I decide to meet him halfway. I won’t write any more stories filled with symbolism, but I’ll write what I want. And it isn't going to be fable, fantasy or sci-fi.
Next submission. Allegorical again. *sigh* I can't help myself can I? I knew he would hate it but I was creatively tapped out, brain dead trying to come up with something that didn't come naturally and I needed to submit something - anything. But, guess what? The class loved it but did that matter? No. Some even approached me after class and kindly told me they wished they could write like that and wanted to know how I did that. Though a long piece - 20 pages - I had them engaged from the first word and they never lost interest. Do you know how hard this is dude! But, of course, he hated it. Next.
In my next submission I finally give him his dark fable. Feast on that you sadistic pig. Living in the pit of despair, of which he was to blame, birthed it. My dark side had been tapped. And, he loved it.
"Yes! Fear and evil is good and good is nasty! And we love nasty!"
All-righty then, got it. Satan was teaching the course and he was into some kinky shit. I finally gave him his science fiction request. A dark, evil and scary creation. He was beside himself with joy. It appeared I at last gave him the lollypop he wanted to so badly suck on since the beginning of the term.
"You can't possibly leave this as a short story! This is a novel! This can very well be turned into a movie!" Whoa, whoa, whoa! Relax there, Lucifer, I had a hard enough time coming up with this. Now you want a novel? Sorry, I’m not ready to sell my soul to you just yet. Plus you, you little bastard, had me tap into my dark side after I tried so hard for so many years to be a light in this world. Not nice. I much prefer Luke over Darth, but you wanted to play Satan, didn't you?
Seventh, eighth, ninth submissions, more pages of the dark world I created that he so craved and wanted to feast on. He fell in love with my story and couldn't get enough.
"Five more pages! Ten! Fifteen!"
Argh! My life came to a halt. Satan had allegorically and symbolically made me his slave.
Finally, the story was finished. That I lost part of my sanity as a consequence didn’t even ping on his radar of good conscience. He was happy. And we must make the man happy because there is a little thing called a grade.
My husband asks, "are you worried about a grade or about being taken out of your comfort zone and learning to write something different?" Silly man, of course it’s all about the grade. Hello! But he was right, grade be damned if you haven't learnt a thing.
Well, Satan was appeased. Satan was impressed by my final submission because he did not think I could pull it off. He wants to highlight this story next week in class. So this was a test, huh? Sadist. Had I wanted another man in my life that would push me to my limits to see if I indeed had it in me, I could've stayed home.
As our final assignment, we had to hand in our best pieces for our portfolio. My stomach was in knots because he hated everything I submitted, with the exception of his sci-fi request. So, I meekly ask what I should submit.
"Oh, you’re fine. No worries there. You’re more than fine."
He's evil, I say. And now next semester I have a project seminar to take and tackle. Playwriting. And guess who’s teaching it? The Prince of Darkness again. I email him. Does this require an in-class presentation in front of peers, because if that’s the case, I’m out. Not my strength. I’d rather have root canal without anesthesia than to read anything in front of a class.
"No, not a requirement and it’s been a terrific pleasure working with you and I look forward to doing so again next semester."
Well dude, I’m glad you took pleasure, because for me, it was anything but. And so the second torture session will begin at the end of January. But for now - for the next month at least - I have light in my life once again. Unfiltered, immense joy. That is, until Satan once again comes to claim my soul.