At the end of January, I wrote a short story entitled “Good Taste” and submitted it for an MFA fiction workshop. Tonight, we’ll take a look at my piece to examine the choices I’ve made, their positives and pitfalls, and I’ll take extensive notes on the entire process. The workshop is small, eleven persons including the instructor, but other pieces have been treated with grace and genuine interest, so here’s hoping mine receives similar treatment.
As for the piece itself, I got the idea from a radio program I heard in January of 2007, then allowed to churn in my brain over a few months. I finally wrote four pages of the story in September, only to not include them in the latest draft that I wrote in January. The pages didn’t fit the direction of the story anymore, though exploring the character (it’s a first-person, past-tense narrative) and the story’s tone in those four pages was immensely helpful in writing the complete story. The fifteen-page manuscript is told by a man who, unaware of his ever-increasingly eccentric behavior, becomes obsessed with his new job working with unreleased consumer products. Okay, so that’s pretty vague, I know, but I’m not ready to let the proverbial cat out of the bag just yet. Let me just say the narrator did his job in surprising me as I wrote, even switching things around when I was sure I knew what would happen next. He made me laugh in all the right places, and I even felt a little sick at the exact moments he wanted me to. Yes, it’s that kind of story.
Tomorrow, I plan to post about the workshop, from the specific details of how it goes down to the kind of notes I received to what I plan to do with the feedback I receive. While the story may not be perfect, and the workshop process may not be either, going into the process with an open mind is what will make my effort feel worthwhile to me. I set out to write a good story, and this third litmus test (the first two being my fiancée and Barry Hess) will help me gauge success.