As promised, a recap on the writer’s workshop I attended.
The workshop, which was a free, shortened version of Grub Street’s Jumpstart Your Writing Workshop was just one short hour. Perfect for a workshop/writing class novice. Being such a small time commitment, not to mention bank account commitment, I felt less pressure to get the most I could get out of it. Granted, I still went into it wanting to get the most I could from it, but since I was not giving up my entire weekend or a boat load of cash, it was alright if I got nothing out of it. This freedom let me enjoy the workshop for what it was. It was like going on a first date where you don’t know it’s a date. You can talk and have fun and not worry about what you are wearing. There’s no pressure to make the other person like you. Of course, once you learn that it was a first date, then you can start feeling awkward, but that’s an entirely different experience.
So, back to workshops. We did two exercises. One was a memoir focusing on description. It had to include a memory from a car. The second was a short story that was supposed to focus on the inside story. We had to write about a person claiming responsibility for a historical event as a way to mask some internal issue.
These exercises were not the type of writing I’m used to at all. Exercises like this are one of the main reasons I did not major in English or get a master’s in creative writing. I didn’t want to be forced to write something. I wanted to write what I wanted to write. But this was a workshop. I had filled a slot and I was here to learn.
For the first story, I wrote about driving back to college late at night. I wanted to show the freedom I felt, sitting behind the wheel with the cold winter wind blowing in my face to keep me awake. I don’t think this story was very successful. I have a hard time writing about myself. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m fine borrowing from real life, but I always alter it just enough to make it no longer my story.
For my second story, I felt a little more in my element. I wrote about a boy from a poor family who feels insecure because of his lack of wealth. He claims responsibility for warning the Americans that the British were coming. He was able to do this because he invented a time machine. Due to some incidents that almost altered the course of history (i.e. accidentally knocking out Paul Revere minutes before his ride), the boy decides that he cannot use the time machine to bring his family wealth. Who knows what he might mess up were he to do that.
Now, I don’t think this was my best bit of writing. But I will say, doing these exercises opened me up to the idea of trying new things in your writing, to experimenting with new styles and sometimes writing things you don’t want to write, just to see where they will take you. Would I sign up for a full workshop? Most definitely.
P.S. If you are in the Boston area and have thought about taking a writing class/workshop, you should check out Grub Street.