Another workshop bites the dust.
Well, it bites the dust in a good way. As in “it’s over with.” Also, again, it’s over with in a good way.
I’m really excited at how different each student’s work is from everyone else’s work. It wasn’t something I had initially noticed, even—it was something that one of my students pointed out to me when discussing the stories. I was glad, because I think that’s the true indicator that everyone is willing to go in their own directions with what they write. Though discovered inadvertently, I think this exploratory method is a better than the imitative model that’s preached in a lot of writing programs.
I doubt that comes as a shock. I’m an ideas guy, if the last 5 or so blog posts haven’t already made it clear. If the idea isn’t present and awesome in a story, then I don’t feel like reading it—it is infinitely throw-awayable (yay, make-em-up words!). So by giving my students free rein, I think they ended up doing what they thought (creatively) was the best idea they could write about, and set off in that direction.
Intro to Fiction and Poetry definitely set me (at least) in another direction. Learning the nuances of writing style certainly leaves the writer with an asset, but I think it might end up constricting creativity. Certainly, there are some great works of fiction that have beautiful writing. However, I think that by starting on this path people feel constrained about what they are able to write about with this level of prose—for example, In a lot of workshops I felt like I was taking a risk by trying to write science fiction or adventure stories. But the thing is, I think it’s a bogus expectation to want everyone to write like the love child of Kafka and F. Scott Fitzgerald (who, I’m pretty sure, actually learned his writing voice be retyping the works of Earnest Hemingway), in a world where great works of fiction are not necessarily discernable from bestsellers or Oprah’s book of the month. It’s my belief that the economic aspects of the publishing world are going marginalize works that rely on prose, rather than idea, to sell the book.
So, yeah. My class running in all kinds of directions with their writing = good. It makes it more fun for me to grade, anyways. Of course, this isn’t to say that I’m not trying to get them to tighten up their writing—that’s the majority of my feedback to them. But I’m very happy to say that there are only a few instances where the fundamental idea of a story has been challenged—which is more than I can say for a lot of my workshops, having been both on the giving and receiving end of that sort of feedback. I hope I’m able to maintain course.