Much has already been made of this Sunday’s episode of Girls, which saw Hannah Horvath’s transition from alienating her entire New York social circle to alienating her entire fiction workshop at the University of Iowa. There are already obligatory rundowns of “how this work of fiction didn’t accurately reproduce every detail of its real-life setting!!!!” (though this Vulture piece is much more fun and evenhanded than its headline suggests), and Lena Dunham’s taken to Twitter to make it clear that, no, those workshop critiques aren’t based on the controversy over her memoir. So we at Flavorwire would like to cast a wider net.
Do you have an MFA? Are you in the process of getting one? Did you give your parents a seizure by majoring in creative writing as an undergrad? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, or even if you’ve been in a less formal workshop-esque situation, like a writers’ group, we’d like to hear from you.
Flavorwire is interested in hearing all manner of workshop horror stories. Here are two real-life tales to kick things off: a friend of mine was once in a class with a white woman who regularly included black supporting characters with names like “Liberty” and “Equality” in her stories (she claimed Toni Morrison was her biggest inspiration); another learned that a classmate was responsible for a lethal car accident, but got away with zero consequences because her family’s a big deal in [redacted country] — though she still felt bad enough to write an essay about her guilt for nonfiction class.
If either of those sounds familiar, please send your anecdote to me. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but we have a hunch that fiction (and nonfiction, and poetry) workshops are the strangest of all.