It was a dark and stormy night. Cliche, I know, but true. If it makes you feel better, it was also hot – humid and muggy enough that the air felt stuck to my skin.
I eyed the unlocked door suspiciously. If I hadn’t blown $1.50 of my printing quota, I probably would have turned and ran.
See, at the first meeting of my college`s English club, I signed up for a flash fiction workshop.
I knew I would regret this. I have yet to conquer my fear of my work being read by others. (And in this setting I had to read it aloud. The horror!) Still, I thought I might as well get started. Surely it wouldn’t be that bad. What was the worst that could happen? Everyone else would be far better than me and- nope. I needed to kill that train of thought right away. I was scaring myself.
We were given a prompt in advance – a relief, I thought initially. I could polish my story within an inch of its life before it got anywhere near human eyes (or ears).
My prompt was as follows: write a story in under 500 words whose opening sentence comes from page 84 of a book you do not own and have not read.
This presented a bit of a problem, since the only books I have are… ones I own. Eventually I borrowed my roommate’s book Gang Leader for a Day. Her classes sound much more interesting than mine.
In the end, I wrote three stories. The first didn’t work out. The second I wrote far ahead of time and polished until there was nothing left but dead, dry words without a hint of interest. Finally, in despair, I churned something out the night before and called it done. It wasn’t beautiful, but it wouldn’t embarrass me.
Clutching my printed off copies to my chest, however, I was having second thoughts.
Eventually I made it in, despite the incorrect room number listed on the email. I’d never been in a workshop situation before. I can tell you that waiting while everyone reads your work and marks it up is nerve-wracking beyond belief – almost as bad as the long pause before a musical performance when you’re sitting under too bright lights with a whole audience watching you. In the end, things turned out all right. I definitely didn’t outshine anyone, but I wasn’t a toddler scribbling in crayon next to Picasso either. I was even complimented on tight prose (something this blog will never see since I don’t edit these posts at all) and told that it was clear I’d been a copyeditor. That was gratifying. I ought to get some good out of that hellish experience.
All in all, I’m glad I went. If you ever have a chance to visit a writing workshop, I’d advise you to give it a go. It’s scary and intimidating and you’ll want to crawl down a hole and hide, but you’ll learn. And learning is good (says the college student currently on the computer).