Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bad Shakespeare Takes Ireland: How We Write

I suppose I should talk a little bit about why I’m here in Ireland, other than to grace it’s fine drinking establishments and historic sites with my presence, thus giving important context to future historians about why I wrote about it so much in my future memoirs. (They’ll want to know a lot about me during this transitional time before I’ve taken over the world.)

I’m here for a writing program. A Creative Writing Program. You see, back when I was beautiful, I wanted to be a writer. Unlike my other plans that fell through when I was no longer beautiful (and achieved true gorgeousness) I still want to be a writer. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog, and why I keep trying and failing to do NANOWRIMO, and why I watch so much Cartoon Network. That last one may be unrelated, but I’m going to go with it because this is my Blog, and if you want to make up silly reasons you should have your own blog.

The program is run by Lisa Lister, who’s beauty and intelligence is matched by the fact that she has not yet given me a grade for the class, because it’s not done just yet. The people in the class are busy writing away, fiction pieces and memoirs. It’s also run by Irene Graham, who I’m pretty sure knows just about everyone not just in Ireland, but planet Earth, as she keeps dropping nuggets about meeting people like “Tom Cruise” and “U2” but only back when they were in their Joshua Tree Days. I half expect a folksy tale from her about meeting a young man named Barry O’Bama, and that she just knew one day he’d be going far.

The past two weeks focused heavily on story development, something Michael Bay refers to as “what?” This week has kicked into high gear as we have started turning in work. Because, I’m so handsome and wonderful (and I signed up last) I decided to go first in my fiction piece, a reworking of something I tried to do for Nanowrimo which is now entitled Mars Kaplan Saves the World, and is about that, Mars Kaplan. Saving the World. It’s about 8000 words long so far. Some of them are pretty good words. 

Now, what comes with turning in the work is the workshop, whereupon everyone will read your beloved first draft, and let you know what needs to be fixed.

I think of it like a home inspection for a house. When you get a home inspection for a house, the house itself could be carved from granite, brought up to code, and even have some features installed that don’t yet exist, like replicators and transporters. but the guy doing the inspection is going to look at that one light switch that doesn’t turn anything on because it’s secretly hooked up to a garage door in Japan, and let you know how the entire house could, hypothetically burn down if there manages to be a Godzilla attack at the same time a Cloverfield Monster is attacking America, and you flip that switch. 

Workshopping is a little like that.

Your readers (all good) will hold a mirror up to you work, in which you’ve held up a mirror to society, (which is a lot of mirrors) and tell you why it’s great for about twenty minutes. Just as your ego hits that apex that means you’ll not be walking out the door so much as buttering up your inflated head to slide it out the door, they start in on what “needs work.”

The thing is, as much as you can joke that the “needs work” is difficult to hear, it’s the most important part of any workshop. Any good reader (and this class is full of some fantastically wonderful readers. And they don’t read my blog, nor do they grade me, so this isn’t just sucking up, this is pretty genuine. Imagine that from a blog that’s mostly about robots) will tell you what doesn’t work, because they WANT SO DESPERATELY for your piece to work. They want you to go out, write the next great American Novel. Only a jerk will try to get you to write the next great Canadian Novel. (And there are no jerks in this group. Except that one cat who joined us for a little bit. Scam Artist.)

I did survive my first round of Workshopping. I got some great feedback, mostly in the “hey, double check your grammar, dude” type way, which is important, because I’m pretty terrible at double checking my own grammar, as anyone who reads this blog knows. I’m pretty good at double checking Kelsey Grammer, who is a beloved actor but has very little to do with writing. They also had some great story notes, which is a reminder to make things universally beloved, like Kelsey Grammer, instead of just Michaelly Loved, which is also like Kelsey Grammer. I guess he does have something to do with Writing.

Anyway, the experience is wonderful. I’m looking forward to the next week and a half (is that all I have left… that’s a LOT of pubs… I mean, writing institutions… to hit up before the end of the day) as the rest of my time here unfolds. I’m looking forward to further developing my writing, which is why I’m here.

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