By yesterday we got through the first two rounds of critiques, so I've been on the hot seat twice now. "It's All Fun and Games" and "Thus Have I Heard" have been pretty thoroughly raked over the coals. It's a little frustrating, since most of the workshoppers haven't caught the pop culture or mythology that I've been trying to tap into. But in the same vein, if no one gets it and it doesn't stand up well on its own merits... One of the repeated phrases here has been, "In the argument between the writer and the reader, the reader will always win."
The other thing I find myself rebelling against is the line between going off the map in terms of creativity and writing to more of a conventional structure. But it's been sinking in for me that if I want to be able to sell my writing, as opposed to just exploring my creative process, there's a level of selling myself in a digestible format. I can afford to be weird and gonzo when I've established myself more.
I feel like I've learned a ridiculous amount, and we're not even through the first week. I don't necessarily know how to apply everything I've learned, but it's given me new tools to look at my work through.
Kij's novel workshop seems to be working much harder than the short story workshop. Aside from some of us playing catch up with the reading, the only homework the short story group has gotten was yesterday when we were given instructions for re-writing an opening scene. The novel workshoppers, on the other hand, have been busting their asses through assignment after assignment. Some of them have looked distinctly haggard shuffling through the dorm.
Overall I feel like I've been forming strong friendships with my fellow workshoppers, both my own group and the other group. I've been making a point to go on the big group lunches and dinners, so I've gotten to spend a lot of social time with people. There's only one person I've gotten a bad vibe off of, and I don't know what the source of that is. Otherwise, I've met a bunch of awesome people. I'm going to be a bit sad to have this all end, but I imagine my girlfriend would kill me if I tried to stay away at a workshop year round.
For those who care, these are the places around Lawrence that we've had dinner at:
- Tuesday: Free State Brewing Company: Pretty solid brew pub.
- Wednesday: Zen Zero: Nice Thai place. They had a special on chilled sake. Yum!
- Thursday: India Palace: Pretty solid Indian fare, very reminiscent of the good ol' days of Cedars in Seattle.