Okay. I am not going first in workshop, but I am still very jittery. I am going second (my workshop is tonight), and for some reason, this time around, it feels almost as bad as going first.
I haven’t been in a workshop in a year…the last time I had a full semester of workshop was Spring 2006! And I dropped out of a Fall 2006 workshop when I realized I was burnt out on workshops. But here I am again, waiting to be judged by peers who have no incentive to reward, and a teacher I’ve never had before, but admire greatly. Oh. After a stroke.
My emotional walls are thinner now, my coping devices for guarding myself have not fully returned and settled into their places…and neither have my fortress walls been rebuilt. I am not sure if I fully welcome them back, because I’ve found my writing has a new edge without the walls and all the guards. But this makes me feel…wobbly…when it comes to vulnerable situations.
I remember a friend of mine a few years ago in my MFA program, who got more and more cheerful as the workshop night wore on. “You must love workshop,” I told her.
“No way! I hate it! I can’t stand workshop anymore!” She unscrewed the lid to her nalgene bottle, one of a dozen nalgene bottles in the classroom. “You’ll know what I’m talking about your last semester!”
“How do you do it, then?” I asked. I opened my nalgene bottle too. Sitting in class, discussing manuscripts for nearly three hours–that results in some thirstiness.
She leaned over to me. Curiously, she shoved her nalgene in my face. It was filled with orange juice. “Liquor,” she said, smiling.
What? “Do I need to do an INTERVENTION?!” I hissed. I really was worried.
“No, you don’t, I’m fine. I just thought it would help me get through workshops, and it sure does.”
Hrm. I kept my eye out for her and didn’t see a nalgene in any other class, and didn’t see her swigging from any bottles. It really did seem she only brought that nalgene bottle to workshop.
Now, years later, I’m facing my last semester in my MFA program. I’m facing my last workshop. In one of the comments of my post about the first week of workshop, Susan posted a comment about online workshops, and how “The other good thing about online workshops is that you can take your comments with a teddy bear and glass of wine in hand.”
I’m thinking: It’s quite possible to just go to class with that wine (in a nalgene) and a teddy bear in hand.