Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Novel Workshop Day 3

This morning I wandered downtown to the bagel shop for breakfast and walked back to the residence hall along a new route, through a neighborhood of old, beautiful houses. The road and sidewalk were both paved in red brick and lined with big, shady trees. I took a couple of photos:

Yesterday is when we started "novel-bashing." Not to say we took a hammer to our projects. Rather, the term comes from kit-bashing, which is the practice of taking pieces of different model kits and putting them together. This is the process of taking pieces from different places and fitting them together to make something better.

But, if the first day of serious workshopping is any indication, the first step of the process is more like ripping off a Band-Aid. It needs doing, but it hurts a little.

I won't go into the specifics of other people's novel projects. That's not my place. I will say my fellow seven workshoppers all have fascinating ideas, and none of us has similar ideas, which keeps it interesting. I want to see every one of these projects get published. At this stage in the process, though, all our projects -- mine included -- need some work to turn them from ideas into stories.

Yesterday, that entailed discussions on what's cool about each project but also where the flaws are and what each of us needs to focus on and flesh out over the next few days.

My turn in the hot seat comes today. I spent last night and this morning brainstorming on my ideas and characters, going into more detail than I have before. Some of it will get discarded, some will stay. I thought about the generalized questions that came up in yesterday's session that I haven't verbalized the answers to in my own project: What is it about this story, more than any other, that makes me want to write it? Which aspects are nonnegotiable? Which aspects are flexible? What are the themes? What is this story really about?

I suspect some of my fellow workshoppers thought I was overreacting with my work ethic last night, but my creative process works best on deadline and under pressure. I don't love being on the hot seat, but that's oftentimes where I do my best stuff.

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