I had the experience of being workshopped in the tutorial on Saturday, which was particularly nerve-wracking for me as I was the last one to be done (and we had over-run as well so I guess people needed to get away).Â Even though I’m quite used to this process, both in person and on-line, reading for the first time in front of a new group of people is quite daunting. It’s worse when people who go before you get very positive comments as well and you think ‘Oh no, mine’s nothing like the style of the one everyone loves.’
What was most useful was getting the notes that people had made on the scripts. I read these on the train on the way back (and again on Saturday evening) and I was very encouraged. In the main people must have made the comments in advance and I was struck by the differing views. Listening to the class discussion, one might be tempted to think there was a uniform opinion (possible influenced by Alison giving her comments on hearing the extract read out.) However, there were plenty of instances where one person had scribbled something out as being, for example, over-written whereas another person had written ‘this is great’ next to the same line. I guess it goes to prove the truth of the Vonnegut quotation where he instructs writers just to write for one person and not try and please the whole world. (Bren Gosling mentions similar thoughts on his blog.)
One comment that slipped into the back of my mind on Saturday but has now come back to me was that someone said that she didn’t know how to interpret some of the material. I take this as something of a compliment now I think about it as some of the writing (and other art forms) that I enjoy most are those where the reader (or viewer) is not sure how to take it. ‘The Office’, for example, is comedy that borders on tragedy and parts of it stir emotion much more than many straight dramas. Similarly, Jane Austen’s writing is overtly humorous in places (Mr and Mrs Elton) but much more subtle in others. Two of my favourite TV series, ‘The Day Today’ and ‘Brass Eye’ (which I’ve just unearthed on DVD) are simultaneously deadly serious and incredibly hilarious. I don’t think I’ve seen anything funnier than Phil Collins with his ‘Nonce Sense’ T-shirt or ‘Dr’ Fox saying in all seriousness ‘This has no scientific basis whatsoever but it’s a FACT’.