As I was running, the Mission was only half awake - still rubbing the crumbs of sleep from its eyes, scratching its belly while it yawned and blearily groped for a clean mug for coffee. I passed storefronts with workers washing the sidewalk clear of urine, vomit, and spilled beer - the remnants of a night well spent. I caught Laura at the iron gate leading to our building and we beat feet up the ramp and into the room. Felicia smiled at us as we came in out of breath and sweating. It was 9:59.
"I love that sound," she said with devilish glee, referring to the stampede as Elizabeth, Sarah, and Ginger arrive one minute later.
My workshop was amazing, probably the best workshop I have ever had. This is not to disregard my classes at SNC with you, Laurie, but I'm dealing with a different level of education here. In my writing classes at Norbies, I got used to the idea of praise gravy. It was lathered on thick, delicious and fattening and is exactly what I needed. I should say, however, that that praise usually only came from Laurie (my professor) and maybe one or two others in class. The rest of my workshop would simply say things like "I didn't get it," and fail to elaborate on why. I started to get the impression that they didn't read my work or - if they had - read it once and then jotted some notes down quickly before they went out or tackled homework of greater importance. As a result, I was reluctant to read their own work and put effort into the work they were having workshopped. This caused a positive feedback loop of slackerdom. I submitted things to workshop that I knew would draw praise from the people I admired and discounted any comments left by students who I didn't respect.
In our workshop class now, there are six of us. It is TOTALLY evident if someone doesn't read the story. We are also, each and every one of us, here to dedicate ourselves to our work, to our success, and the success of our fellow writers. Because of this, I know that I have a responsibility to give the best critique I can and, likewise, I know that the critique given to me will not simply fuel my ego (dude, I already know I'm good, I just have to remember that from time to time) but help me to develop as a writer. Already ideas are spinning in my head of how I can rework my novel, how to tackle my first chapter, what I am good at and what I need to work on in order for it to be a solid piece of writing.
In my craft of fiction mini-workshop it's a little different. This is FLASH workshop. I bring in a copy of a story in progress, it does not have to be finished, just two or three pages of it. I read aloud about a page and the class reads the rest. Together we talk about what works in the piece, craft wise. We try (though fail at times) to steer away from literary discussion and focus only on what works, what is missing, how it's developing, ideas of where it goes. As my cohorts were talking I was busily scratching down notes, underlining, revamping. It was a positive, safe, constructive environment.
Last night we had a faculty reading, held in the same theater where I saw the genre bending pieces performed two years ago. Walking in that night I was hit with a sledgehammer of emotion - what I had seen done and created and performed on that 2nd Saturday of Advent I myself will soon be a part of. To be out here is exhilarating. To create is empowering. To interact and discuss is liberating.
I am diamond, see me shine.