Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Workshop Rundown

I realize that I never really posted about my workshop experience.

So on Monday, before workshop I posted this clip, it's a comedy sketch and worth spending a couple minutes watching before I tell you this next bit.

I posted the clip to be funny.

But I think that's what just happened.

In the same hour, with the same people in the room, we discussed how they loved that I named all the characters by their function/role in relation to the main character, and then suggested that I give them names just for the sake of clarity. There were a couple other examples in the conversation but I'd like to skip ahead to when I looked at the comments written on the copies of my story. One guy underlines a bunch of lines and made comments about how much he loved those lines. The next copy I picked up another person had marked all the same lines as "cheesy" or "too cute."

Exactly the same lines!

Apparently my writing is as polarizing as the Republican party.

So here I am in the world of 'write this, but don't write that ... unless it's this.'

The actual conversation, having these twelve literate people shred my story was really a thrilling experience (not as thrilling as being at the Kenyon Review workshop, but thrilling enough). Reading their typed comments the day after workshop was enough to send me running for prozac.

What was the difference? Maybe they were being intentionally harsh in the writing, wanting to be sure to get across certain points to me that caused confusion for them. But there was none of the light hearted tone and banter that there was in the discussion.

Although, for anyone who read "Ten Days" when I still had a draft of it on my website, the instructor brought up a very interesting point. That the most interesting part is not when she's in New York and the scandal breaks, it's when she's in New Mexico with her host/old mentor and I skip over the first three days that she's there. Three days ripe with possibility of creepiness.

Workshop starts off with people praising certain parts. They appreciated the reserve and the minimalism of the prose. Which would later digress into a conversation about my story and minimalism and whether or not I had actually achieved minimalism. Funny, as until that night when the instructor defined minimalism I hadn't thought about how it applied to fiction only to art. So, no, as it wasn't intentionally minimalistic, I just wanted to have a very "pulled back" narration.

Then then went into the issues. They didn't like the ending. In this workshop, btw, no one likes any ending that anyone turns in. For me, they didn't believe I'd earned an ending where the main character kills herself. Although I argue that walking into the desert at night for a girl who's lived her whole life in urban environments isn't as much suicide as being reckless with her life. Then again, this crowd does not have much connection with the desert and the fact that getting lost out there is pretty damn easy.

There's more ... there's much more ... but I am sadly, falling asleep as I type. I'll date this to post in the morning ... yawn. Night.

Highly Recommended