Workshops (A Short Story) - Day Fifteen to Eighteen Online

Korean spicy rice cake (tteokbokki).

Continuing with fictional re-tellings of last term's online creative writing classes, we've reached the draft workshop sessions. Over two weeks, we had four workshops, each covering 2-3 pieces. Rather than taking a different post for each of these, one short story, in four parts, will cover them all. Some details are true but the characters and their thoughts are made up.

The events:
For each story, volunteers read the piece out loud to start each new discussion. 
The writer was asked to only listen, unless a reader had a specific clarification question, and at the end they could comment or ask their own questions. 
As the instructor, I also stayed silent until it was time to move on to the next piece. I also took notes of the discussions and forwarded these to the writers afterwards, along with detailed draft review notes.

The story:
Once everyone logs in, Prof B says "alright, class time, welcome everyone to your first workshop" and cameras switch on. Then she dives straight in to the first student's work. Mine! Thought I'd be able to keep the camera angled up and subtly finish off my cereal during role call, but no. Student 9 volunteers to read my piece and for a while it seems he'll have to read all 600 words, but finally Student 4 and then Student 1 also offer to read, so Prof B is happy. That usual goofy smile on her face like we're her little toddlers taking our first steps. You'd think Student 3 would do me a solid and offer to read, but no, he just sits there, probably too distracted by Student 4's beautiful red lips. That's all I notice during her section, and on through the rest of the reading. Then it's silent. Like, no-one at all has a clue what to say about my writing. I don't know if it's because this is the first time and they're nervous or they really aren't inspired enough by my piece to bother about it. Prof B just sits there too. She did tell us it was our time, not hers. Eventually Student 7 says something about the obvious typo I made. It breaks the ice; Student 5 suggests a new title (totally missing the pun I made), Student 8 goes on about a lack of senses and disses my moments of "telling, not showing", and finally Student 9 likens it to an old Korean tale and I'm scared everyone will say it's too similar but he gets cut off by Prof B's buzzer and we move on. I go back to my cereal and there's still a lot of silence for the other reviews, but the same students get bolder with advice.

It's the weekend. My birthday! And instead of enjoying the tteokboki Mum ordered and joining in the heated debate my brother and Dad are having about the government aid for families affected by the pandemic, I'm thinking about what Student 4 said about my story. If anyone else had said, "there's not enough emotion to care about the characters," I'd probably be hushing my family and showing my mum a funny video on YouTube. But she said it. She didn't say much about Student 2's story. Even though everyone else seemed so impressed. Sure, his had more "literary language" like Prof B goes on about. Even his title matched with the theme. I don't understand how he can write creative stuff so easily. If I didn't have every other class with him and only saw him in this class, I'd probably hate him. But it's kinda nice for him to be doing better for once. I wonder if I'd feel the same about Student 9 sucking up all the time if I knew him outside of class. That's it! I need some kind of comparison for people to see a deeper level of the protagonist. Then they'd care and want to see him succeed. Prof B's starting to make some sense.

Consider title, foreshadow the theme/events. Foreshadow? What was that again? Ending a little abrupt, remember to give full resolution and use deeper language. I guess that's Prof B's way of hinting I didn't "show" enough. Don't forget the other characters. They are people too. Not just there to serve the protagonist. How am I supposed to cut words and add extra stuff about the other characters? Like the metaphor of the baby and the crib. Can extend this. I didn't even know that was a metaphor! How did Student 9 see that if I didn't even intend it? These notes are ridiculous. Well, at least there's something. Everyone was so quiet at the start I thought Prof B would actually have to speak just to tell us off. Thank goodness Student 3 has a crush on me. Even though he just said "I liked it. It was pretty." at least that got the conversation started. I just wish Student 2 would have said something so I'd have an excuse to contact him. Maybe I could. Just email saying, hey, it's Student 4 from writing class. Did you finish your final draft? Got any tips? Wow. That's more pathetic than Student 3's comments!

I can feel the sun today, not just see it. Summer is coming! But deadlines first. Stop it Student 5! The point of this walk is to clear your head and forget about assignments. Except, that suggestion to change the POV is still echoing in my mind and keeping my blood pressure pumped up. Sure, Prof B said to let ourselves be angry and take time to let ideas come, but I have to submit the final draft in a few days and I'm still not sure what to do to fix the story. There's no time to stop and smell the roses. Actually, I don't think I've ever done that before. And there aren't any near me. The cherry blossoms have shed their petals; I don't think it's a great idea to kneel on the ground to sniff them. But the bold green of the grass makes a nice backdrop to the soft pink and white confetti. Hmm, is there a way to get that into my story? Prof B would probably love the description. I could work it into a metaphor or simile somehow. I just have to keep the idea in my mind the whole walk back to my room and not get distracted- Oh! Is that Prof B on the other side of the street? Should I greet her? Head down, head down.