Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trench warfare in the workshop setting

We humans feel a natural need to bond together in the face insurmountable odds, tragedy and suffering. Those who survive the battlefield together almost always come out the other side as friends, sometimes of the life long kind.

I can’t say I was exactly expecting that kind of experience at BONI this year. Yet, as I recounted the events of the week to Erik, he pointed something out: part of the reason I felt like I’d bonded more strongly to more people this year over last year was, quite frankly, our shared misery.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There was nothing wrong with the workshop. As always, Don, Lorin and Jason were great, the classes were wonderful, the crit groups were productive and the venue was cool. And with a very special exception, all of the attendees were awesome peeps. So why in the world would I bring up trench warfare in the same post as the workshop?

Because it only takes one person being bat-shit-epic-fail to inspire World War I sized feelings of “I’d like to feed you my foot through your ass” pretty much universally in a group of thirty adults, of which most prefer introversion and violence of the fictional kind.

I won’t bore you with the full list of horror stories I both heard about and experienced first hand from this person, but I would like to give a few basic tips on you can avoid being the person at a workshop dubbed “you know who.”

  1. Don’t mock people when they're introducing themselves.

  2. Don’t answer every question people ask the speaker during the presentation like you are the speaker.

  3. Don’t talk nonstop. (And when I say nonstop, I mean “why hasn’t that person dropped dead from oxygen deprivation” nonstop. All day. For SEVEN DAYS.)

  4. Don’t go around telling people that the instructor didn’t read anyone’s submission just because said instructor didn’t think your writing was perfect.

  5. Don’t critique people in a crit group by saying “The instructor would tell you to do this” and proceed to stomp out of said group when people offer constructive criticism.

  6. Don’t appoint yourself “workshop assistant” and start barking orders.

Did you answer “Well, duh” to any of the above bullet points? Congratulations. You have more tact than someone who claimed to be a 20-plus year publishing industry veteran and almost initiated a Thunderdome remake in sleepy Hood River, Oregon. Cheers!


scott g.f.bailey said...

This is why we have opposable thumbs: in order to make fists.

Anonymous said...

Oh. Ugh. I seriously don't know what goes on in the minds of people like that.

Jenna said...

Oh, geez. I said "well, duh!" to every single one of those. Shame that there are those that do that and ruin it for others...

Anonymous said...

Who in the world could you be talking about? Thanks for the great laugh this morning and to think I almost consented to drive for 2 days with said person.

The Screaming Guppy said...


Hey! Glad I got a laugh. And SO glad you didn't get stuck with that person for two more days. AH!

Elizabeth said...

Tee -hee - hee! I just read this one so my gigling is a little late!