1st Workshop with Aimee Bender

I'm not sure what I expected (a reformed urban hippie maybe who wears lots of bead necklaces, lives on green food and pauses a lot?), but Aimee Bender in person, is even smarter, more grounded and sweeter than people told me she'd be. She's really fucking cool. There's absolutely nothing meretricious about this woman. She's not glitzy, sententious or self-absorbed. In many ways, she's the exact opposite. I sent her an email to see if we could brain storm about literary agents for a little bit, and she already wrote back and said, cool, let's do it. It's fucking amazing how accessible and kind she is, so early on in the game.

I remember the first thing she wrote on the blackboard, it went something like this: perfect execution is not the point of workshop. I had confessed to her that I kinda hate the game fiction writers play (myself included) where our first short story in workshop ends up becoming our manifesto, our place for creating first impressions. That first manuscript is almost always a declaration of talent instead of a confession of vulnerability. As writers, we hate being vulnerable, in part because we're vulnerable all the time. But there's something manipulative about trying to control what people get to see of you, especially since inevitably they will figure it out anyways. I don't have a problem with someone submitting new--and possibly kick-ass--stories for workshop they've never workshopped before. In a way, that seems to be the point, to workshop pieces you're the most excited about. But I do have a problem with people who submit stories of theirs that have already been workshopped and praised (major revisions notwithstanding), published, stories they submitted to get into the program they're now in, or more rarely, stories they know for a fact are simply radder than rad. I don't see the point of this, and that's why I really appreciated Aimee encouraging us to submit stuff that is raw but ready to be looked at (as opposed to stuff that is raw, but that hasn't been worked out yet). Workshop should be the place that you get helpful, critical suggestions for pieces that need output, not the place where you're constantly covering your ass so that people don't tear you apart. I'm glad Aimee Bender set the tone of workshop, and also glad, I guess, that she appreciated my honesty, because it embarrassed me a little bit. I'm not gonna lie.

I'm glad I'm in her workshop. Now, the question is, what do I have that's raw enough for this workshop.