My first workshop wasn’t what I’d hoped for. Maybe I misinterpreted my teacher’s actions. I would like to think so.
My desire to write was still intact; three decades had given me a stronger ego. I knew that I didn’t want to take a chance on my last teacher’s friend who was teaching the next workshop in Washington even though other students had said she was proficient. I told my advisor I was considering not taking a class that semester and didn’t tell him that I might not come back. I was writing everyday and wasn’t sure how much more I would get from the program.
I’d spent a considerable amount of money on tuition by that time, so I finally decided it would be foolish to not finish the degree. My Fiction Techniques teacher also was teaching a workshop on Saturday mornings in Baltimore which cinched the deal. I registered and tried to put my last class out of my mind.
The students in this class were mixed, some experienced, others not, some older, some not. The group included four familiar faces from my Contemporary American Writers class. I no longer cared who was in the class, my expectations were too low. The teacher was a definite plus. She brought books to class that she suggested we read, novels and literary criticism, and was always encouraging, talking about how we could use different techniques in our writing.
I decided to workshop my revisions of my “white shit” story and some novel chapters that I wrote during the semester. I’d come up with another way to approach the beginning of my novel based on comments I’d received during my workshop in Fiction Techniques.
My teacher was very sympathetic about my experience in my last workshop. She’d had a similar experience with a well-known author in her MFA program at Virginia. I was still confused about what happened, he’d seemed like he wanted to claim me as one of his students at the beginning of the course and talked to me about how he’d helped so many of his students. I wondered if that independent streak of mine had offended him. No specific instance came to mind, but I’d noticed that people didn’t always respond positively to my optimism. His rule about writing our workshop stories during the semester had helped me establish a better writing routine and made me realize that I needed to write every day.