In our Writing Lessons series, writers and writing students will discuss lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. This week, we hear from Christine Hennessey, an MFA student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. You can follow her on Twitter @TheNewChrissy. —Andrew Ladd, Blog Editor
In the first semester of my MFA program, I submitted a story to workshop. The story, I thought, was pretty good. Subtle in meaning. Daring in subject matter. Tangling with deep truths that illuminated a hidden aspect of human nature. I was sure my new cohort and my professor would recognize my genius, and crown me accordingly.
So you can understand my surprise when the discussion took a different turn. “I don’t understand the main character’s motivations,” someone said. “Why does she break up with her boyfriend?” someone else asked. “What is she thinking?” came the chorus.
I was stunned. I was mortified. I wanted to sink down into the floor, drop out of the program, and never, ever write again.
Then my professor spoke up. “What’s happening in the white space?” he asked. And I was stunned again, this time for a different reason.