First Workshop in Graduate School

“Write the book that only you can write,” our instructor told us on Tuesday evening in our workshop class. We didn’t do any ice breakers to get to know each other; we just dove in. I loved every second of this. This wasn’t a workshop that I was taking because I’m a writer; this was a workshop part of a graduate school program. Perhaps I’m adding too much weight to the “graduate school” aspect. Perhaps I’m still reeling how the frak I got in, how the frak I landed here, and what I’ll do to make sure I belong here. Our first homework assignment: create our Aesthetic Manifesto. What exactly is this, you ask? Our intention for our work. Themes we’re going to explore in our work. What kind of storytellers do we want to be? I haven’t written mine yet but I’ll freewrite about it this weekend so I can really ruminate about this further. What’s going to be great about having this manifesto written is it’ll remind me why I’m doing this in the first place when my morale is low.

Steph Cha, a friend of our instructor, was invited to talk to us about her process and creating a space for people of color in a genre (crime fiction/noir) that is primarily dominated by Caucasian men. The fact that she writes Korean American feminist noir that didn’t exist until she did is mind blowing and absolutely inspirational. As a person of color myself, I, like her, want to add my voice to the conversation. I don’t see many books featuring Caribbean, primarily Dominican American authors, featured in novels period. Other than Dominican authors such as Junot Diaz and Julia Alvarez, I very rarely see it. So in addition to writing the best book I can write, I’m also going to write what I know. This talk, for me, injected an energy and comfort level/space I can’t say I’ve ever felt in a workshop. Granted, we didn’t even freewrite on Tuesday night but our instructor alone has me jazzed for the rest of the semester.

The cons? Because nothing is ever perfect. The class is a mixture of First Year and Second Year students in the program. We’re honestly physically divided and also by energy. First Year students are excited to be in graduate school while the Second Year students are so enmeshed in their work, that excitement has since worn off. The vibe is interesting but perhaps it’ll get better? Maybe we really did need an ice breaker cuz by the end of the class, it was still a little chilly.

When I exited my class, most of the folks in my cohort (who I met at orientation and hung out with over the weekend) were milling around so we all went to a bar. As a person that doesn’t live in SF, getting home to Oakland after that sucked. I went to bed crazy late and couldn’t concentrate at work all day. My takeaway? Don’t get carried away with social hour. There will be more opportunities to make friends with my cohort. It doesn’t have to happen the First week. With that said, I’m looking forward to my Thursday night class and will report back then!

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4 responses to “First Workshop in Graduate School

  1. This is so interesting ! Wow

    Please check out my work at lnairpoetry.wordpress.com

  2. Pingback: My Aesthetic Manifesto | Adventures in Writing

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