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February 19, 2008

Being honest

Bridgette Redman

Typically, I'm a fairly quick writer. Once the research for my column is done and I've done my pre-writing thinking, I'll spend about a half hour to 45 minutes writing the piece.

However, I've lately felt like I'd fallen into a rut, so I've been taking my Sunday evenings and trying to spend more time with each story.

This past Sunday night, I'd worked on the one half of my column for a couple of hours, writing and rewriting until I finally had something that I was happy with. My husband came downstairs from a nap and I proudly read my lead aloud to him and asked for his opinion.

His reply was short: "It's turgid and heavy handed."

I sighed, re-read it and had to agree that he was right. I thought back to Dominic Papatola's admonition at last year's Institute that if we're in love with a sentence, then we need to cut it because we're too captivated with our own voice.

So back I went and rewrote some more. By the time I finished, the copy was much cleaner and far more focused on the dance concert rather than on how cleverly I could turn a phrase.

It made me realize how fortunate I was to have in my home a critic who would be honest with me rather than simply telling me what I wanted to hear. He said what needed to be said for me to improve my craft rather than to stroke my ego.

Isn't that what we do as critics as well? Don't we serve a far better purpose for theater (or any other art) when we are painfully honest rather than gently reassuring? It's something I have to remind myself of frequently.

Posted by Bridgette Redman at February 19, 2008 8:02 AM