Official University ASFES has been discontinued. To those of you who have followed and enjoyed until this point, thank you so much, and I'm sorry to say good-bye. Your lovely reviews brought many smiles to my and Alix's faces and were very much appreciated. But I believe that this is the right thing to do.
I just finished my first year of college, where I am pursuing (among other things) an English major with a focus in creative writing. At my university, I've been exposed to a greater writing community. I've read works written by and have had my works read by people of all levels of skill and experience and of all kinds of writing styles and preferences. I've submitted short stories and essays to magazines (with one successful acceptance so far) and, more importantly, I've sat on a reading team for a magazine, where I learned about the critiquing and publishing process firsthand. And, after this experience, I've realized something:
Writing is a constant process of learning. It is an eternally-repeated process of creating, sharing, taking critique, and editing. I thought I knew this before I decided to start an OFU, but now I know that I didn't really know it at all. Frankly, when I pitched the idea of ASFES to Alix, I thought I was a better than I actually was (though I'm not humble enough to deny that I'm pretty good).
But that's not a completely accurate sentence. The truth is that good writing is subjective. There's no such thing as a bad idea, though there are always better ways of executing those ideas. I'd intended to get to the "how to's" of good writing eventually in ASFES, instead of just harping on the "thou shalt nots", but I didn't. And I doubt that I could have done such topics justice back then. I might be more capable now, but I'm not going to try, because it's none of my business.
It's not right for me to tell anyone that something they want to write is bad or to lay out the rules for "good" writing. Any such rules are subject to my own bias and personal preferences, even if I think I'm being an objective teacher and critic. That was nothing but a conceited, self-righteous delusion. Being asked for comments and helpful critique is one thing, but shoving it in people's faces or thinking that someone else needs or should want your comments is just plain wrong.
While I was on the reading team for that magazine, I heard perfectly nice, intelligent people brutally tear apart stories and essays because they were "from a boring genre" or "too predictable" or "didn't end the way I thought it should". These assessments, loaded with bias and completely ignoring the quality of the works themselves, angered me. And when I realized that a lot of ASFES is me making statements like the ones I found so unfair, I was ashamed. I am ashamed. And I am truly very sorry.
Y'all should write what you want. Write what you're inspired to write. Write what you find interesting. Write for an audience, write for yourself, write the story that you've always wanted to read. Have fun, or be serious, or maybe do both at once. It is possible to have fun and be serious at the same time. I tried to do that with ASFES. I failed.
We all fail at writing, hundreds if not thousands or millions of times. But as long as you don't stop, as long as you keep trying, you will never completely fail. Your writing will always improve, as long as you keep writing.
That, I believe, is the only true rule of writing: Keep writing. Don't give up.
You've never written anything before? Write something. You have a sentence? Expand it into a first draft. You have a first draft? Edit it. You've edited? Get someone to look at it for you, and maybe take some of their critique (but not all of it—they are just as fallible a human as you are, as any of us are). Then edit again. Stuck on one idea? Take on another. There's no such thing as having too many writing projects at once.
As long as you don't give up, you have not failed.
I'm not going to delete ASFES, because I don't believe in deleting old writing. Some of you enjoyed this story, and so it should remain available to you. It should also continue to exist as a reminder to me about how I used to be, and how far I've grown since then, both as a writer and as a person in general.
To those of you who were offended in any way by any part of ASFES: I'm sorry, and I hope you can forgive me.