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edwriter



Mar 28, 2006, 3:10 PM

Post #51 of 235 (2714 views)
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Re: [rooblue] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, rooblue. Adding them to the list.

Yes, it would be fun to put a book together. You'd think there would be a market for it, but then again I think some writers really don't go for these stories.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 28, 2006, 4:00 PM

Post #52 of 235 (2697 views)
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Re: [edwriter] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, a book devoted to stories set in MFA workshops is about the last thing I'd want to buy, personally.


sibyline


Mar 28, 2006, 4:03 PM

Post #53 of 235 (2696 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Yeah, a book devoted to stories set in MFA workshops is about the last thing I'd want to buy, personally.


seconded. *shiver* though i enjoyed the one posted.


edwriter



Mar 28, 2006, 4:04 PM

Post #54 of 235 (2694 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

For those who may be interested:

rooblue has confirmed (thanks!) that the Byatt story is called "Raw Material." If you have access to The Atlantic Online, you'll find it archived there (April 2002 issue).

And I got a tip that helped me find the Stuckey-French story, too. It's also an Atlantic story. "Electric Wizard" (June 1998). You can also find it in her 2000 collection, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, and Other Stories.

Again--not that these necessarily focus on the mechanics of the workshop/critiquing. But they sure do get to some emotional aspects.

Best,
Erika

(This post was edited by edwriter on Mar 28, 2006, 4:25 PM)


riot grrrrl


Mar 28, 2006, 10:07 PM

Post #55 of 235 (2652 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

Not a short story, but Tod Solondz's Storytelling is set in a workshop.

It features some great Speakeasy type dialogue, such as, I hear Updike has psoriasis!


andfw


Mar 28, 2006, 10:39 PM

Post #56 of 235 (2640 views)
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Re: [LookUp] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

That's funny, LookUp, I had the exact same experience with the Rabb story. Started reading it in a bookstore in the Zoetrope 2 anthology, and kept thinking how much it sounded like my program. Then of course I realized it was. I even sent her an e-mail telling her how much I liked it, and we compared notes on the prof in question. Funny stuff.

I noticed that at about the one-year mark of the program, all of a sudden everybody was writing workshop satires. Some of them were funny, although I don't like them on balance. I even sort of wrote one myself, but mine was more making fun of working at a lit journal than it was workshop itself.


Windiciti



Mar 28, 2006, 10:49 PM

Post #57 of 235 (2636 views)
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Re: [riot grrrrl, Rooblue] Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

This thread is amazing! And everyone on this post is pretty amazing, too!
Thank you for those titles. I will read the stories.

The weird thing is I've been thinking about writing a funny workshop story too, for a few months...um, also somewhat based on reality.

Perhaps someone wd. publish them all together if a smart person like Rooblue proposed the idea?

Has anyone seen the the first season of "The L Word?"
One of the characters, Jenny, is a budding writer and attends a workshop with a dreadful monster of a woman who humiliates her, etc, etc., until Jenny learns to write about her real, raw emotions.
My husband hates the show, but he was fascinated by these scenes.
The actress who played the writing teacher was harsh looking and sounding. Does anyone know who she was?


LookUp


Mar 29, 2006, 2:27 AM

Post #58 of 235 (2613 views)
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Re: [jstgerma] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

That's funny, jstgerma. I thought about writing to Rabb too, but never quite got around to it. I am totally wondering about the prof. The physical description makes it sound like one person (obviously) but the harshness of his comments, I thought, made it sound like another. Maybe that's a discussion for a private email, though.

Are you a recent graduate?


andfw


Mar 29, 2006, 3:05 AM

Post #59 of 235 (2609 views)
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Re: [LookUp] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm actually still here. I graduate in May.

As far as I could tell, the professor character was a composite based loosely on two different profs, so your take on it sounds spot on. I'm with you in that I don't really want to speculate as to their identities in a public forum, but I'm sure you know who I'm talking about.

My e-mail is my screen name here at email.arizona.edu, if you ever want to compare notes on the program.


LookUp


Mar 29, 2006, 12:36 PM

Post #60 of 235 (2567 views)
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Re: [jstgerma] MFA Workshop + Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

Funny, that's what I figured. Luck with the program. :)


edwriter



Mar 30, 2006, 9:12 AM

Post #61 of 235 (2526 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Emotions [In reply to] Can't Post

Did not see "L Word." Sounds interesting, though.

Quick update on some texts already mentioned. Read "Raw Material." Actually, I think I read it when it was first published. Very disturbing ending. Also found "The Amish Farmer" (which first appeared in Esquire in 1980) in a nice anthology, American Short Story Masterpieces (edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks).

If all the stories focused on MFA workshops that could, indeed, be unappealing. But so many of these stories take place in different settings--classes at different levels, adult ed/community-type workshops (early in "Raw Material" we get a list of the students, their names, and their occupations). My own story was set at a summer conference. I know--minor variations, right? But variations nonetheless.

And if anyone was intrigued by "Electric Wizard," I should note that it's not really a "workshop story" in the way that most of these others seem to be. There are references to the summer workshop-for-young-people that the protagonist teaches, but the focus is really on how the protagonist manages some consequences of the suicide of one of her students. I don't think I've given too much away there. I hope not!

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



clarabow


Mar 31, 2006, 1:33 AM

Post #62 of 235 (2488 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Critique Guidance in MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

Has anyone here had experience with the "Story Workshop" at Columbia College in Chicago?


Windiciti



Apr 1, 2006, 1:22 PM

Post #63 of 235 (2449 views)
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Re: [clarabow] Critique Guidance in MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

Clarabow,
I haven't had direct experience, but this is what I heard:
  1. The CW Director of another program in Chicago, (who has an MFA from a well-respected Eastern school and is a published writer) says they have to "deprogram" people from Columbia. It was intimated that they are not used to reacting w/ concrete negative and positive comments to other people's writing.
  2. The impression I got myself is that the story workshop may create a womb-like atmosphere---which is not for me. I attended the Open House and asked some questions.
  3. My writing professor at NU---published writer, who teaches a non-credit short fiction workshop---I REALLY respect his opinions---was interviewed for a job there, but objected to the Story Workshop concept.
  4. As I may have said before, opinion is so divided that it's hard to get a true reading. Maybe someone who has gone through the program will respond!



Windiciti



Apr 1, 2006, 1:24 PM

Post #64 of 235 (2449 views)
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Re: [clarabow] Critique Guidance in MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

By the way, Clara, you are asking all the same questions I was asking, until they dinged me in early February!

I got an early response because of a scholarship situation w/the state of Illinois.

Keep on asking the questions!


sk1grrl


Apr 1, 2006, 4:27 PM

Post #65 of 235 (2424 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

The actress in question is Sandra Bernhard, who's famous for her one-woman shows. Her persona in real life is simliar in its directness. I thought she was great, really funny, probably because the character of Jenny really grates on me!


clarabow


Apr 1, 2006, 4:50 PM

Post #66 of 235 (2416 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Critique Guidance in MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow...hmmmm...

Does anyone know anything about the "Story Workshop" format at Columbia? I feel like I don't know that much about it...!


Windiciti



Apr 1, 2006, 7:43 PM

Post #67 of 235 (2386 views)
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Re: [sk1grrl] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, sk1grrl!
thanks for the info on Bernhard. She is quite harsh looking and sounding.
I hated Jenny too: manipulative, wimpy, and dressed like a jerk---at least in the first season.
Even though I am not gay, I thought Shawn and Marina were the most attractive on the show. I think my husband really liked Marina's looks too.
An acquaintance who is gay, recently told me that Shawn is not gay in real life. More power to her as an actress!
I wish I had cable and cd. watch the show, now in its third season! I just loved it.


sovietsleepover


Apr 1, 2006, 9:45 PM

Post #68 of 235 (2367 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

To derail a bit: on one hand it is cool that straight actors will play gay characters--destigmatization, etc. On the other hand, I think it's a symptom of our greater culture's inability to deal with non-heteronormative people on a deeper level. No matter how outspokenly queer the tv character is, an ambivalent audience can always rest assured that the character's not gay in real life. What I think underscores this point is the lack of queer characters actually played by queer actors on popular tv shows, etc. Bug me a bit about this & I'll do better to back up my statements, but right now I'm headed out the door!

Anyway, Jenny totally annoyed me 1st season (I haven't seen later seasons yet): why does the only bi-identified girl in the cast also have to be a totally flaky dingbat?


Windiciti



Apr 2, 2006, 1:29 AM

Post #69 of 235 (2343 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

Dunno. She seems to have irritated a few of us. But didn't her stories get better as the workshop progressed?
Don't remember if that was in the second season. You can rent it.

As far as actors playing straight or gay characters, I don't care. They are Actors. I expect them to be convincing, just like the two protagonists in Brokeback Mountain.


sk1grrl


Apr 2, 2006, 11:56 AM

Post #70 of 235 (2322 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

Alice is bi, too, as is the actress who plays her, I believe.

And while we're at it, let's talk about the portrayal of the writer as a self-mutilating manipulator whose work is completely self-referential! What's up with that? Why can't television get beyond the stereotype of the tortured artist? ;)


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 2, 2006, 1:29 PM

Post #71 of 235 (2304 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

I dont' know what percentage of gay roles are played by gay characters. I suspect its a good amount. There are plenty of gay actors, many of them famous. I'm not sure why you think audiences can rest assured that the actor himself isn't gay, unless you are talking about some major hollywood star in a blockbuster movie, like a BM scenario.

I think hollywood pretty much has to have some straight people play gay people, as the percentage of queer characters these days seems to be far higher than the percentage of self-identified queer people (that being around 1 to 3%).

But yeah, they are actors. I don't need a gay actor in that role anymore than I need a racist actor in a racist role.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 2, 2006, 3:50 PM

Post #72 of 235 (2387 views)
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Grad school [In reply to] Can't Post

One thing I've been wondering about is what MFA workshops are going to be like. I have a feeling I'm unprepared.
I did plenty of workshops in undergrad, but frankly no one else in them was any good and most of the students weren't serious about writing, they just needed an art credit. I'm not bragging there, as I'm sure many other people here had the same experience.

So a room full of talented dedicated students critiquing each other? I wonder how it will turn out. I have a feeling it will be more a lot more competitive and dare I say nasty than undergrad...


Windiciti



Apr 2, 2006, 7:11 PM

Post #73 of 235 (2261 views)
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Re: [sk1grrl] Professor Character on The L Word [In reply to] Can't Post

I know I must have sounded harsh when I said poor Jenny was wimpy. I don't know how I could have forgotten her self-mutilation episodes. That was really horrible, not funny at all.
But I have forgotten why she had to do this. I remember she was tortured by something in her Jewish childhood, but don't know what it was.

When she wrote up the dream sequences about the Professor in France for her story class, that was really fascinating. I felt that this had required some thought on the part of the scriptwriter, and that was enjoyable, and to me, acut above the average story line on most TV shows.

Alice is really an adorable character!

I really don't care who plays straight, bisexual, or gay people, as long as they do a good job. But it was interesting to find out who is and who isn't really gay on that show.


Windiciti



Apr 2, 2006, 7:37 PM

Post #74 of 235 (2359 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Grad school [In reply to] Can't Post

There are generally some ground rules established at the outset by any professor who knows the business.
I've taken workshops in diffrerent settings, and most had the same rules. Here are some:
  • Remember to to mention the good w/the bad when you critique someone's work. Use appropriate language.
  • Make concrete suggestions for improvement.
  • Don't make picayunne comments.
  • Don't be a HOG and bring a lengthier piece than required at one time.
  • Proofread your stuff and don't waste our time. (This one is mine!)
  • The author may not speak until the end, after the profs. comments.
  • As an author, don't defend yourself when it's your turn to comment! Remember if it's not on the page, it doen't exist, so don't tell us about it.
  • Make notes of people's comments.

As far as quality of work from other participants, that's pretty much the luck of the draw. And I say this also as an experienced English High School teacher, where I've had great groups of students and then all the others, too.


andfw


Apr 2, 2006, 7:41 PM

Post #75 of 235 (2356 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Grad school [In reply to] Can't Post

I had the same experience w/undergrad workshops. I was really nervous about my first grad workshop until I read the first round of stories, and realized that we're still talking about drafts here. I've yet to see a publishable story (although I've read a few that wound up published after revision). After my undergrad experience, I found it really refreshing to be in a workshop where everybody else took it seriously, and everybody else was legitimately talented.

People don't pull any punches in grad workshops, but I've rarely seen real nastiness (it does happen). My experience has been that grad-program competitiveness (is that a word?) manifests itself much more outside of workshop.

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