If you’ve ever written any type of thing in any workshop setting, well, these things have probably happened to you.
- You submit your piece after 100%, definitely without a doubt having checked to make sure it’s flawless and pristine, without a typo in sight. Immediately after your class of twenty and your professor have the paper in their hands, you realize you have made at least five grievous typing errors. (True story: recently I turned in a story meaning to say someone was going to assess someone else. Instead I said they were going to asses someone else. I still can’t decide if this is the funniest or saddest typo I’ve ever made.)
- You have absolutely nothing to say. Naturally, your professor calls on you. Panic. Either stare wide eyed like you’ve just seen a ghost materialize in the classroom, or say absolutely nothing even though you are indeed saying words – “I thought the tone worked well with the word count.”
- You’re trying to make a valid point but your brain cells disintegrate on the spot. “I thought this word could be different because okay, this sounded better in my head, but if you just changed this word over here to that word over there, you know what I’m trying to say?”
- You have something so great to say, it’s going to blow everyone’s minds. Revolutionize the story you’re reading. Standing ovation from the class, extra credit from the professor. Then someone else says it. Cool.
- The story you’re reading is legitimately so irredeemable that you have no comment.
- The story you’re reading is legitimately so impressive that you have no comment.
- You say something you think is a valid point, then a flurry of hands rise around you in protest, and you spend the rest of class or maybe your life regretting that comment.
- The class is workshopping your story. One student thinks the main character should have died. The other thinks they should live. The next thinks that they should die. The next wants them to live. Someone thinks they should come back as a zombie. At the end you have no idea what to do so you just smile and nod.
- Instead of writing your friends notes on their paper, you draw them pictures of kittens and dinosaurs eating birthday cake.
- No one is saying anything. Anything at all. Everyone’s staring at each other. You don’t know how to break the silence. You try not to pull out all your eyebrow hair from stress until your professor finally speaks, giving up on the idea that anyone’s going to participate.
- You ruffle through the story in front of you like you are searching for something important to comment about, but you really are thinking about the leftover cheesecake yo have in your fridge.
- Someone interprets a symbol or meaning in your writing that makes you seem like an absolute genius, so you roll with it. Yeah, yeah, of course you intended for it to read that way. The dog definitely foreshadowed the coming car crash.
- You wrote you story four hours ago after staying up all night and drinking more coffee than a human being should be allowed to drink, but you have no way to communicate that this is far from your most shining work.
- You know exactly what’s wrong with your story and you nod sheepishly in the cone of silence, wanting to scream that you know, you know.
- You are stuck in the cone of silence and really, really need to let the class know that the main character is actually from outer space, but can’t.
16. Someone makes a genuine comment of praise of how well they think you’ve done on your piece, and it makes all the stressful social awkwardness worth it.