You bet. Now and then I realize just how much I learned.
For instance, in an early draft of the novel I’m working on, I wrote about a break-up between a man and woman: “They both knew they were becoming less central to each other. They were like oil wells at the turn of their century: the easy fields already drilled. Now came the spills and, finally, the drying up.”
Before the workshops at Brooklyn College, I reveled in fancy metaphors. But upon rereading this self-conscious and wooden passage, I immediately deleted it. Now it reads, “‘I’m not a sexual man anymore,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ she said. But when she saw his expression, humiliated, diminished, she realized it was the worst thing she could have said. She didn’t care about his sex anymore and he knew it.”
Now, this is not the last revision. There’s still too much telling going on. And what about all those “said’s”?
But I’m on the right track. The teaching in the MFA workshops taught me to recognize when I’m hopelessly superficial and when I’m on to something good.