My first writing workshop has come and gone. It was both better and worse than what I anticipated. The good news is that everyone liked my piece a lot. The bad news is that nobody understood it. I sat there for 30-40 minutes, muted by the professor-imposed “cone of silence,” slowly realizing that almost all of my classmates are completely unfamiliar with the literary traditions of the West. The Bible? Dante’s Inferno? Moby Dick? Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? Gordon Douglas’s “Them” (1954)? People, this is a relatively expensive writing program you’re paying to teach you the art of fiction writing. What is your excuse for not knowing the tradition you deign imagine you would be contributing to?
This was a slow realization. The faster realization, and the one that probably stings more, is that only one person out of sixteen understood what it meant for a star to supernova, and what it means for people to be exposed to incredible amounts of radiation in a very short time. Sure, most of the people in my class are post-middle aged (which makes their ignorance of the western tradition more appalling the longer I think about it), so I get that pretty much any science education they got happened decades ago. But, people, please, just go with it. Work through it. Google some shit if you have to.
I’m going to sum up my class in one incredibly dismissive statement right now so you know in the clearest, most concise way how I feel about most of my classmates: these are people who probably thought Chris Nolan’s “Interstellar” is something much more profound than the pedestrian movie it really is.