When “Honorable Mention” is More Than Enough…

In January, I went to an eight day  writer’s workshop called “Writer’s in Paradise.”  It took place at Eckerd College and is quite prestigious I am told, with a faculty made up of famous writers* and a student body of gold star seeking,  literary smarty pants.  I submitted twenty-five pages of Waking Up the Ghost as a writing sample and against all odds was accepted.

I have written the better part of a book with the juicier aspects of my drinking life.  I must say dear reader, the blog has not begun to delve into my seamier side and I decided to submit my work for the Novel Workshop.  When I told Lauren this, she looked up from editing my submission and said, “So you’re calling it a novel because if you called it a memoir Jon Jon and I would kill ourselves?”

Workshopping is a noun being used as a verb, and a gerund (I think).  It is a hellish practice, where people who’ve memorized obscure passages from Proust and Yeats (and who all seem to have been published and know each other and have been to the bloody workshop before) critique your writing.  There’s a sort of duck-duck-goose anticipation until it’s your turn and then you are not allowed to talk until the pecking party is over.

There are rules.  Everyone has to be constructive, but let’s not forget my novel is a memoir and when the group began to posit on how unlikeable my protagonist was – it was excruciating.  I was also new to my sobriety and writers DRINK.

So I left after three days.

I got two copies of The Best Writing of the Eckerd College Writer’s Conference: Writers in Paradise yesterday.  Of the 150 or so attendees, eight writers had their work published in the review.  Another seven got Honorable Mention and I (the vulnerable, newbie ex-drunk, with the PRETEND novel, who LEFT) got one of those…

*Dennis Lehane, Tim O’Brian, Ann Hood, Andre Dubus III, et al

Today I’m not drinking because I’m Honorable Mention!

How come you’re not drinking?