Last night, was the final meeting of my writing workshop. These eight Wednesday sessions had a profound impact on my book and my perception of myself as a writer. I need to borrow from John Hughes. I hope he would forgive me. The original tagline… “They only met once, but it changed their lives forever,” needs to become…”We only met eight times, but it changed my life forever.”
In this workshop, fourteen writers submit twenty-five pages of manuscript, and two per week are reviewed. We review memoir pieces with great reverence and kindness – that is a life we are talking about, after all. Fiction pieces are typically, mostly lovingly, but brutally torn to shreds. I have a fairly thick skin, and I drove home from my review, popped a Xanax and crawled into bed. I was absolutely done. Fortunately the Xanax did its job and I awoke eight hours later, ready to start again.
Internally I railed against their suggestions and comments. I couldn’t even process them for days. And who are these strangers judging my work? All I know is that like me, they write. But who are the other writers in my workshop? I’ll tell you who they are. I summed them up in five minutes. They are Aging Beauty, ER Doc, Mom Attorney, Mr. Legal Battle, Vietnam Vet, Quiet with Freckles, The Reporter, The English Teacher, Lunatic Fringe, Still Waters Run Deep, Baltimore Bubbe, The Genius, and Christine (I can’t even classify her, fabulocity just oozes from Christine). Ok that is only thirteen. To be fair I did give myself a nickname. I am very definitely The Whore. I was the only writer who offered up a sex scene. And that is daunting, too, let me tell you! So if the shoe fits…
Every week, I would read the work of two more writers and their stereotypes fell away, and were replaced by actual names and real live people with unbelievable stories. Some wrote fiction and others wrote memoir and every week I left workshop saying THESE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING.
I started the workshop because writing was isolating. Who can understand such laser sharp focus on something that does not exist, except another writer. When I started eight weeks ago, I was some woman writing and I needed people. Now I am a writer, and I have people and I am grateful.
About a week after my review session, I edited in every single comment from my instructor and co-writers. Literally every single one. They were all on the mark. My book is so much better for it. So…
Thank you all. You rocked my world and I will be forever in your debt. Getting to know you has enriched my life. In the immortal words of Simple Minds, Don’t You Forget About Me.