Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tinker Mountain -- Day 3 -- More Readings

Writers workshops come in many different sizes and colors. We have workshops on poetry, fiction, memoir and trauma. Why trauma? Because the subject matter requires sensitive treatment. Writ small, and the story could be just one person's cathartic experience that has little interest or value to a larger readership. Writ large, and the story can be melodramatic. Writ right, and the story moves the reader, demands much of the reader and gives back for that demand.

Yesterday we reviewed and discussed two different types of traumatic events. Both were creative or narrative non-fiction, meaning that they were representations of actual happenings in the author's life.

One poignant story was about a girl breaking free of her family and returning to college on a snowy night. She's done something no one in her family has done before and she's scared. She hears whispered memories from her parents that she's wasting her time and should get a job. Nothing learned in old books can be useful today is her father's opinion. She has to trust a stranger to help her get to college after she misses the last connecting bus. Her internal monologue as she wars between trust and distrust make the piece worth reading a second time.

The other story was about revenge fantasies. A mother wants revenge for the near-rape of her daughter. She buys how-to books on revenge, learns how to shoot, researches poisons, thinks about running the man down with her car. The narrator takes us on her journey with humor that never approaches pathos.

Both stories were solid drafts. Both could be improved. Both evoked strong feelings.

Only one emotional meltdown. That's to be expected. We are treading on toes, pouring acid on open wounds, surfacing memories we'd rather not think about. And today we begin again. I'm equipped with my readings, my trusty green pen and tissues. I've done my homework. I've cried already over two pieces. And I will probably become very emotional over one particular piece. I can't wait to get started.

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