A couple of nights ago, a student of mine reacted very poorly to her workshop. She is an older white woman who had submitted a problematic story about a white cop who “saves” a fatherless black boy by befriending him. He also falls in love with the boy’s mother, who is painted as exotic, beautiful, and mystical. Going into the workshop, I was incredibly nervous, as I wasn’t sure how to address this story in a helpful, genuine way for the writer, despite my reservations about its content. In the end, I decided to focus on craft, suggesting she flesh out the black characters more so as to avoid stereotype, to give the main character a more complex inner conflict to make his need for the family mutually beneficial, as well as making other suggestions on cuts, scene vs. summary, and asking her to think about the central question/conflict and to be more focused.
“Everything is possible to him who wills only what is true! Rest in Nature, study, know, then dare; dare to will, dare to act and be silent!”
― Éliphas Lévi