Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Weekend Writer: But Then A Workshop You Thought Was Going To Be A Bust Provides A Lot Of Value

Last month I did a Weekend Writer post on workshops, inspired by one I'd just taken that made my all-time worst list. This past Thursday I had a very different workshop experience.

 I took a workshop on humor writing, Using Humor to Deepen Emotional Impact with Kathleen Rooney through the Off Campus Writers' Workshop. No sooner had the workshop started then I realized that I had misread the workshop description. It was about humor and poetry, something I don't write, though I became interested in prose poetry a few years ago. I've dabbled in it. Barely.

Well, the mistake was totally mine. I knew I had taken an OCWW workshop with Rooney before and decided to put aside regret about my ineptitude, live in the moment, and see what happens.

What happened was a terrific workshop with excellent use of handouts. I came away with some new knowledge of humor terms (call backs! durational humor!) and the name of a George Orwell essay that I've found on-line but haven't yet read. (Funny, But Not Vulgar. And, no, I've never thought of George Orwell as being funny, either.) There were also a couple of opportunities to write, and I came away with what I think could be the beginning of one of those prose poems I've been dabbling in. Barely.

This was a really well-planned and well-executed workshop. On top of that, it was hybrid, meaning Rooney was speaking to a live group as well as a Zoom audience. Those don't always workout seamlessly. This one did.

I am particularly hopeful about the bit of writing I did in this workshop, because back in 2021 I took that other workshop with Kathleen Rooney that I mentioned earlier. It was on writing flash fiction and nonfiction. Looking back on my notes, I see that the work I did to a writing prompt in that workshop became my essay Enough, which was published four months later at Kitchen Tales

So Weekend Writers, while sometimes we have to suck it up when we stick ourselves with a disappointing workshop, sometimes we have to keep our minds open to what a workshop can offer us.


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