Reasons why I don’t thrive in a negative work environment:
1. I start to wonder what the point in trying is
2. I feel like no matter what I do it will never be good enough
3. I compare myself to others and think “I’ll never be able to write like that.”
4. I question my own ability, and capability.
5. Things feel hopeless.
Workshop is like Fight Club.
The first rule of workshop: You do not talk about workshop
The second rule of workshop: You DO NOT talk about workshop
At first I thought this was to protect the privacy of everyone’s writing. We are writers after all, and prone to self-loathing, depression, and insecurity. I think it’s important to respect other writers and their work, and I didn’t want to step on any toes. As I reach the end of the year I no longer believe this. We are told when we arrive “Workshop isn’t a safe place.” I am inclined to agree. Workshop is the land of emotional abuse. And maybe I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t know anyone who has ever thrived in life by being told they suck. In an effort to keep this anonymous, and because I really don’t dislike the establishment or what it’s trying to do, I’m not going point fingers. I don’t think badly of the people themselves, and I’ve learned a lot… from lectures. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, and the person I want to be. And I honestly have to thank the program for that, because had I never been subject to the amount of harmful negativity going on, I would have never realized I cannot morally support a system like that.
I could never look at someone and question whether there was any hope for them. I could never refuse feedback because it wasn’t worth my time. Every person, every writer, that I have ever encountered has value to me. Every story I read has potential to me. No one could ever convince me otherwise, and I could never be part of something that held that view. Not only because I’m terrified that by being taught by people who hold those views, I could become like them, but ultimately because I cannot and will not support the crushing of people’s dreams. Maybe because I know what that’s like. To be told you have no worth, and that you’ll never amount to anything. How deep those words seed themselves inside of you, no matter how hard you try to keep them out. They take root, and you start to think you can’t. You start to question your own value and the value of your work, and especially people in positions of authority hold a lot of sway, because their opinion means a lot.
And I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life battling through all those bad seeds, and ten years later I’m still trying to push some of them out. The writing business is hard? Well no shit! It’s especially hard when you go someplace to learn and are turned away from that learning because the person who is PAID to do a job that is teaching doesn’t feel you’re worth their time to teach… Unless you’re already talented, of course. And then you get favourites. And the favourites are good. They have so much potential, and can do so much, and get so far. They are worth all the time in the world. And I hate that. I hate favourites. I think I might be a favourite, and I hate myself for it. I hate that someone sees value in my work, but the value I see in someone elses work goes unnoticed. I don’t ever want to leave someone behind. Especially not someone who I believe has value.
Maybe I’m selling myself short. Maybe there is something in my writing. I definitely believe there is value in my writing. That’s why I’m still writing. That’s why I’ll keep writing. But not there. And not for them. Because I don’t want them to get any credit for the writer I’m going to become. Everyone has an epic story in them. Something great, that, given the opportunity, will inspire people around the world. Like J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. How fucking inspirational was that series as a kid? And it would’ve never survived. Just imagine a world without Harry, Ron, and Hermione for five seconds and tell me how different it would be? So, no. Never. I’m done. Consider me officially weeded out. I will continue to pursue my passion for stage and screen, and fiction will go back to being my pass time. Because fiction is beautiful, and it’s my first love, and I could never see it covered in thorns.