My only impressions of writing workshops had come from writers discussing their experience (usually bad) in writing workshops and the show Home Movies. I didn't really know what to expect from a free writing workshop, but I definitely held some stereotypical and slightly mean expectations. In college I wrote things and read other things people had wrote, but they were usually articles about deviant behavior or six sigma management. The last time I had been in a room where I wrote fiction after a short prompt and read it out loud was sixth grade.
There were about nine others and most were regular participants in the monthly workshops. One was a college student, but the others were middle aged. I felt at the start of the workshop that I was only observing; I don't write enough fiction as the rest to justify calling myself an author. These were people who ran poetry festivals. Poetry for me has always been that thing you do as a joke. They were also doing NaNoWriMo and again, not as a joke.
One of the music prompts was the UT fight song. For most in the room, former UT students, the song inspired short stories and memories about football games. I couldn't turn my memory into a short story in the short amount of time (or a longer amount of time, honestly) nor could I read what I wrote straight from the page. What I admired about the authors in the workshop is that they could read what they wrote, fiction or real, right from the page.It just seemed brave. When it came to sharing on Monday I could only summarize what I wrote to the group. Here's what I wrote from the UT fight song prompt or what I think I wrote based on my handwriting:
The UT fight song doesn't make me think of UT, football or even one of their rivals, my alma mater. I had heard it for the first time this summer when I moved to Austin and was far from the UT campus. I was working for the campaign of a gubernatorial candidate* and my boss and several of my fellow campaigners were UT alumni. A few nights this summer, after hours of canvassing, my boss would strike up the UT fight song and blare it throughout the office. This was entertaining for two reasons: the hardcore UT fans would sing along and the one Oklahoma fan would glare at everyone in the room. As the daughter of a Sooner and the only Aggie (my sad little school is so obsessed with UT that it mentions the Longhorns several times in its fight song) I decided I would join Team Sooner. We would listen to the song and talk about the day's calls and campaigning and talk about the next day of canvassing. The UT fight song is not a clarion call for a university and its team, but for my group of Texas Democrats. UT's color is orange, but for me, the fight song's only color is Blue.The writing workshop definitely took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to meet nine really cool people with a passion for writing. I didn't have a chance to say it to the group on Monday, but Happy National Author's Day.
*More on this later. He lost and I'm mad at 52% of Texas right now, but now that the election is over, I have some things to discuss when I'm calmer.