I really hate workshopping. It’s an essential part of that whole ‘being a Writah, Dahling’ thing, I know, and would definitely be incredibly useful IF it was not for the fact that almost everything I workshop I write hurriedly, while hungover, and for the express purpose of having something to workshop. I thought it was about time I committed an act of embloggination about creative writing, so this is my general workshop experience.
Here I am, sitting awkwardly in Kennedy Hall watching my class try to think of something nice to say about the piece I wrote in two hours yesterday morning, while a badger or some similarly smelly and long-clawed mammal tried to claw its way out of my skull. It’s a crappy section of ‘Something longer’, I’ve told them, although it isn’t. It’s two thousand words of vague rubbish, bashed out to fulfil a deadline and largely written in dialect because, as I may have mentioned, I was hungover when I wrote it. This class is full of very clever, very serious Writers, so I can’t show them what I’m really working on (Zombie Werewolves of Devon (in corsets) vs the Ninja-Spartans (who, after being defeated at Thermopylae, ordered a consignment of eye-patches and became pirates)). Incidentally, can I put brackets within brackets? It’s a punctuational point which has been bothering me for some time, and if anyone knows the answer I would greatly appreciate their input. Anyway, back to the workshop.
Someone, probably Gretchen, says something incredibly clever and pertinent. I nod, and say I will work it into the redraft. I wonder how I can apply it to Zombie Werewolves. There is not much space for metatextuality in Zombie Werewolves, but I am sure I can shoehorn it in there somewhere. The great JB nods. He is very keen on metatextuality. He tells me that I was clearly trying to make a cunning metatextual point here. I say that that is absolutely what I was trying to do, and I am glad he picked up on it. You can’t argue when an eminent novelist like JB tells you what you were trying to do with a piece, even if what you were trying to do with it was fill a side of A4 with Times New Roman.
Someone clears their throat and starts to say something about the protagonist, but I am not really listening. I am busy working through a knotty plot problem, to whit; if it is not rape when the victim is dead, would it technically be rape if a werewolf forced himself upon a zombie? I have concluded that it would not, and am considering the implications for Spartan piracy if lycanthropy is a sexually transmitted disease when I realise that everybody is expectantly silent. A question has been asked. I do not know what question, or who by, but I must answer nonetheless.
“Oh, you know”, I say, “this is an early draft so...yeah”. A useful phrase, that I have discovered to be the ‘That would be an ecumenical matter’ of creative writing.
It is at about this point that I usually decide that I should probably contribute something to the class, and manage to alienate everyone within a ten foot radius by saying whatever is on the surface of my brain. Yesterday I casually remarked that British people generally have the idea that Americans cannot do irony, thereby unintentionally and unthinkingly insulting over half the class (who hail from the USA). I decide, sinking red-faced into a slump within my seat, that next time I will write a properly thought-out and intelligent piece, with good description and shit, that will repair the damage because it will be tailored to the class and make them approve of me. Then I go and get drunk to aid the necrophilic lycanthropy writing process, and forget all about it.