I have been delivering the promised sessions (i.e. the sessions promised) to writers longlisted for the 2021 Wadadli Pen Challenge prize. I’ve been doing it by zoom and we’ve had some bumps but I just pulled a quote from the first of the participant evals and added to my Performance Reviews. Obviously this is just one eval but it’s a good one and helpful for future planning and marketing of Jhohadli Writing Project workshops.
Reason for participating – good to know because when have 100 percent of people showed up for anything? So those that do, it’s good to know why.
“I was a short-listed writer and I wanted to know why my story was not chosen for a higher placement so that I could use the knowledge to be better in the future.”
How you feel about the session + why? – this is where I start to figure out what’s working (more of that please) and what isn’t.
“The session was a bit short but I was happy with the ground we covered…It was a very well structured lesson; sort of like a mini-lecture. Ms Hillhouse really knows what she’s doing and it was fun.”
Particularly glad to hear it was fun (at least for this participant) as that’s always a goal.
Also there are some practical reasons for the length but I am planning a longer session for the larger group.
Fave/Least fave part? – digging in to specific activities.
“I really enjoyed the first activity where we were allowed to gain insight on how Ms. Hillhouse edits her stories. It felt like English B class, which is always a plus lol.”
This actually wasn’t the first part – there was a writing exercise to start – but the sessions have been digging in to the revision process so this is a helpful insight.
Goals achieved/not achieved? – one of the things I usually try to get participants in my workshop to do at the top is set intention (each person’s is different) so that they can reflect at the end to see if there’s been any movement toward their goal. I didn’t do that this time (time constraints) but I asked anyway.
“I wanted to know why I didn’t win/ place higher and now I have a pretty good idea why. I also have new tools with which to improve my writing. However, I did not feel like the time constraints placed upon us were conducive to a brutal, analytical critique of our stories.”
I actually really appreciate that this person, though very young, seems committed to the process – the work – beyond the first draft, which is what I’ve been trying to emphasize; and no I didn’t do deep dives in to individual stories, more of an overview of story issues (with a couple of exceptions).
Also I first did workshops for Wadadli Pen back in 2005 but these were done before the Challenge – to help build the story writing skills of prospective participants, and I would have done much more over the years if I could have; but I’ve long wanted to do some post-Challenge Wadadli Pen workshop activity and someone pledging to support this effort (through my own Jhohadli Writing Project, which began as the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project in 2013) made me try to put it together.
Would you participate in another workshop? – always good to know.
They go on the mailing list.
The remaining questions typically are would they recommend it, and what things would they like to see covered in future workshops – good for future planning.
“I would like for there to be a further discussion on the topic of dialogue alone + guidelines for cutting down a story to fit a word-limit.”
I like the specificity.