In just over a week, I will have my first-ever, very official, art school critique. I am excited and nervous.
At the School of the Art Institute (SAIC), all classes are cancelled for one week near the end of each term for Crit Week. This is because the formal critique is given great importance here. Every student is assigned a panel of three faculty (visiting artists may also serve on panels) who look at that student’s work the week prior and then critique it with/for her at her appointed time.
My appointed time is Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. I will go into a room and sit in a chair and three people at a table will rip me apart, give me praise, ask me questions, etc. Gah!
Just today, I sent off pages to my panelists. What did I send?
I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you that I am writing a book. I mean a real-life, honest-to-goodness book, you guys. It’s got chapters and everything. It’s a collection of personal essays and I have to tell you: I’ve never worked harder as a writer in my life. There have been times in the past couple years when I got excited about the idea of writing a book — I even sent a proposal to several agents while I was living in D.C. and I did get several letters of interest back — but it wasn’t time and I didn’t have the fire within me.
Now that my quilts and my writing are married like never before, now that I’m exposed to the most extraordinary reading and art I’ve ever known, the fire has been lit. The book is happening. I’ve been working on it since school began. I can’t tell you too much more about it right now because that is dangerous. In fact, one of my advisors said to me the other day, “You should talk less about what you’re writing and just write it, instead.” This is good advice — and he was saying that while holding the latest 15 pages I had turned in that week, so I’m no slouch.
That’s what’s so incredible: I’m churning out pages like crazy because I’ve learned that when you’re really writing a book, it’s like being pregnant. What I mean is, the old saying “You can’t be ‘a little bit pregnant'” seems to parallel the writing of a book if you’re doing it in earnest. If you’re really writing a book, the energy is sort of shocking. There’s no halfway. I feel like this thing is coming — like a baby — and I’m just trying to get to the hospital in time.
True confession: It’s why I’ve been a little slow on posts lately. I’m writing so much but it’s like, where do I turn the hose?
I submitted two excerpts of the book to the crit panel; just over twenty pages. I’ve worked those pages, man. Hours and hours and hours. I’ll let you know how it goes. I thought about posting the panelists’ names and email addresses and so you could all send them super sweet, thinly-veiled threats to be nice to me, but that’s counter-productive: I want the truth. The truth will set you free. The truth is a far better read.