I knew I was really in trouble halfway through the semester when he started skipping over me as he made his way around the room asking everyone for their comments. Knowing that part of our grade was based on classroom participation, I violated an unspoken rule in his workshop that you wait to speak until you’re called upon. In my other workshops, it was sometimes okay to pop into a discussion when it seems natural to do so and you’re not monopolizing the discussion. In his class, it was obvious that I was making sure that I participated. At the end of the class he did say that I had chosen not to participate fully which I protested. Everything is so subjective, I was lucky that things turned out as well as they did.
If I’d been smart, I would have layed low, become the invisible student. I’d been forewarned. During our first class he’d talked about how students quit writing sometimes after receiving his criticisms or something to that effect. A friend of mine in the class, dropped the class altogether because she was afraid he might not like her.
He did seem knowledgeable about what type of stories were currently being published and craft. He did seemed fussy about some stylistic patterns that he told us not to use but he was surprisingly vague about many aspects of the workshop. He did make it clear that in order to get an “A” in the course, we also had to write something publishable. I had a lot of work to do and I did work hard because of what he said, not a bad thing.
In my teacher’s comments on my second story about a dwarf in Las Vegas, he gave suggestions to me about where I could get the story published. I was surprised that he actually liked the story and I was thankful too, I had come up with a publishable story.