In Praise of Criticism

Making Use of Criticism
Rita Robinson

Many years ago, a woman, about my age at the time, early 40s, ran toward me in a busy Southern California bank, newspaper in hand, and asked for my autograph. Stunned, I began to cry. Her friend, also holding a newspaper, stood nearby pointing to the weekly column I had written that carried my picture.  The first woman patted my shoulder in comfort.

I was married at 17, three children by 23, and began writing in earnest after returning to college in my early 30s. I had ended up in a creative writing class because the English composition class I needed was full. Students couldn’t get a grade unless we submitted a manuscript to a magazine. Heart pounding, I submitted a fiction story to a teen magazine, certain that anyone who read it would think me stupid. It sold, and it was like the Red Sea parting. I still cannot describe how warm it made me feel.

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Writing Honestly Means Digging Deep
Rita Robison

My first writing instructor at a local community college, who possessed writing magic and teaching in her veins, walked slowly up and down the rows of students sitting silently at individual desks, stopping briefly to look them in the eye. Finally she said, “Every one of you holds a multitude of secrets, or you wouldn’t be sitting in this classroom.”

I frowned that wait-a-minute look, knowing that nearly everyone holds secrets, family or otherwise. As I continued to grow as a writer, however, it became evident that she was right. For writers, those secrets she spoke of eventually bubble up from deep within and reveal themselves as writer’s honesty.