Wicker Park Outing & Workshop

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We have first-years. We have a real, live program. This is exciting news. The Creative Writing – Nonfiction MFA program is in its second year and for all of us second-year students, it is very exciting to have an incoming class. Saturday night, as a way to welcome our new class and provide some relief from the pages and pages (and pages) of reading that we are all doing, we headed out to Piece Pizza in Wicker Park—five second-years, six first-years, two large pizzas, one medium pizza, and a few adult beverages.

The workshop experience was a huge topic at dinner, because workshop is the place where we are actually sharing the product of why we came to grad school. We’re putting our creative work out there, for the class to see, for the professor to see and then asked to read it out loud and sit without speaking while everyone comments on what is and isn’t working in our piece. This is standard practice and how most workshops are run, but every instructor is different and in our program there’s a mix of the traditional, the “experimental” and the in-between. The biggest question is usually, “How is Professor So and So in workshop?” I won’t divulge such information here on the blog, but I will say that the experience can be shocking, and at times nerve-wrecking, especially if you’re not expecting what can sometimes be unexpected feedback.

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What is the point of bringing something into workshop that you don’t think needs work? That is what I always say when asked about feedback from professors. If you think something is finished and there isn’t any room for improvement, why bring it to “work” shop? The name implies that you will be working on something. I had a professor once tell the class to “think like elves.” We’re helping each other create through workshop. Writing is never actually finished, but instead we come to a stopping point with a particular idea, for a particular piece. There is always room for expansion, in writing and in art. There is always room for revision.

And so the eleven of us Nonfiction students revised our evening plans and instead of ending the night at Piece we ventured off to Flat Iron where the discussion continued and the drinks began.

I think we have a good group and it is very exciting to experience the program growing and to be a one of the first people to be here, in this program, in this city, meeting and bonding with all of the talented writers that I’ve met along the way.

And, ya know, outings that involve pizza and adult beverages never hurt.