What writing classes are like

I’m not sure anyone talks about college writing classes.

Movies say we have our classes in auditoriums. Writing classes, also known as workshops, never have over eighteen people. I have one with twelve people right now. One time only six people showed up.

On the first day, we introduce ourselves for almost seven minutes each. We learn each other’s names, classifications, what we write, what we read, and what we want to improve on. We all sound awkward doing so. The professor, always older and with a persona of ‘wise’, asks questions about us and takes notes. He or she forms the syllabus as they interview us, getting to know what would be best to teach us.

We don’t face the front of the classroom. Instead, we face each other in a circle. The teacher joins us, sitting in a student desk. She or he doesn’t act higher than us, but directs us. We lead the conversation. Sometimes, it’s like the teacher isn’t even there. Three hours pass, once a week.

We edit each other’s work. There’s always a few who don’t edit well. They can’t give me any critiques. But there’s always three or four who can rip my story into pieces, which I enjoy. Good editors outside of college are hard to find free.

We bring drinks, food, and advice. We learn more from each other than from ourselves. The classes don’t always feel like a class. It’s a small community.

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