Seven Deadly Sins: A Writers Workshop Reverie
June 30, 2014 § 17 Comments
Just in time for the summer workshop season, a guest post from Irene Hoge Smith:
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. As you know, it has been about a hot minute since my last confession. More of the same, I’m sorry to say.
I pretty much cleaned out the book store and didn’t bother putting it on my credit card. There’s no security system and those sweet little cashiers don’t have a clue. I just browsed around with my Kenyon Review bag and snagged the new McClintock memoir and the beef stew guy’s Panic/Desire thing, and four or five poetry collections (they’re all really thin) and I think three different writing guides. I just put the nice purple sweatshirt on over my tank top and gave the kid a big smile on the way out. He never noticed.
Well, there’s that hot guy in the other workshop, really young but clearly looking for a mother-figure. By Wednesday I had him writing my essays for me, which meant I had the afternoons off to shop (see GREED, also GLUTTONY).
Maybe that third order of tater tots at the Village Inn counts? All the swag from the little boutique, maybe even the lodging upgrade to North Campus apartments? I don’t know if that was worth it, though, since I actually had to make the bed myself and nobody comes in to hang up the towels (see SLOTH) and the AC doesn’t make it up to the third floor (see WRATH).
I know I should read that Lopate book, the everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-essays-way-better-than-you-will-ever-write doorstop of a paperback? It’s supposed to be some kind of (excuse the expression, Father) Bible for essay writers, but it’s sooooo long! I was going to do poetry this year because poems are, like, short, and it sounded like a gut. But they’re all going on about assonance and consonance and anapest and dactyls and enjambment and boy, I really can’t be bothered. So I’m doing creative nonfiction. Easy, right? You can just be, you know, creative! And since it’s nonfiction you don’t even have to make stuff up.
Do I have “inordinate uncontrolled anger?” Well, sometimes, like at assholes who won’t publish my work, who wouldn’t? And, yes, I know it’s supposed to be a sin to hold on to anger at someone who is dead, but don’t bother giving me a penance for that one, Father, because it’s basically my whole book project. I’m not giving that one up.
I’m not going to another one of my friend Kaylie’s readings. Two books in a year? She should let somebody else have a chance for a change. I could have done that book if I’d tried. And the other one, too. (see PRIDE).
I want to be the best and most-admired writer here, but also I want everyone else to love me so much they don’t mind that I’m so fabulous. And I want to have all that adoration without having to go to the trouble of really reading other people’s stuff (see SLOTH) and telling them how good it is and, you know, sharing the limelight (see ENVY). And I’m really not bragging, Father, but my essay is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius and I’m pissed as hell at that Eggars guy for stealing my title (see WRATH).
Well, that’s about it, Father. Do I have to stick around? Can we skip the penance part? (see SLOTH)
Irene Hoge Smith lives near Washington, DC. She is a psychotherapist, writer, and writing workshop recidivist. She participates in an alumni writing group with the New Directions writing program at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis and a memoir workshop with the author Sara Mansfield Taber. She has attended workshops with Rebecca McClanahan and Dinty W. Moore (at Kenyon Review Summer Writers Workshop) and Mark Doty (at the Blue Flower Arts Winter Writing Workshop). She is working on a memoir (about her mother FrancEyE, who lived and had a child with the poet Charles Bukowski in the early 1960’s) and nonfiction essays.