Came home to the new Hollywood Vanity Fair issue. Flipped through the Hollywood portfolio section (eh. They've had more creative shoots. Alan Cumming made up like an albino satyr comes to mind) and went straight to the "Michael Jackson Is Batshit Crazy" story. You know, the one with the revelations about the Jesus juice. (Shudder.) Was interrupted, and--hey, I never did finish reading that. I'd try to now, but I really think I'm going to flop at any moment.
Class was hilarious.* Problem is, there's this idea that any idiot can write a children's book--easy to read = easy to write. Except totally, totally not. Half my workshop was in for a nasty surprise this week... well, Crunk really did go a bit overboard on the assignment, I'll admit that. It was all "Freewrite two pages for this and one page for this and four pages for this and another page for this... now do it all over again for a second story idea." I mean--sixteen pages typed, and I stopped before I'd finished the whole thing on the grounds that it was beyond the limits of human endurance at that point. Turns out everyone else handwrote theirs, but I type faster than I write, so I would have chosen that option anyway. My point is, these pussies had to write two pages on their main character and they crumbled.
"How do you feel about this process?" was his question. "I am ANGRY at this process," was one of the answers. I am not kidding. Neither was the girl speaking. "I'm angry because it's just such a lot of work and--I thought we'd just come in here and turn in a story and... y'know... pass that around or something."
One guy even said that he only writes "to enjoy the act of writing," and not for anyone else, especially not for publishers. Meanwhile, we've been learning the constraints and formulae of the children's book market (32 pages, or at least multiples of four; problem introduced early in the story; general plot consisting of a series of problems and responses; the ending is always happy, although there can be sort of an ironic punchline on the last page). WHY IS THIS GUY IN A WORKSHOP CLASS AT ALL?
Afterwards, Clifton and I were talking, and all I could say was, "Have these people never done anything? Were they born today? This morning? Have they never had to do any work for anything, ever? GOD." I've never had a professor focus so much on pre-writing before, but even though the page requirements were a bit excessive, I found it helpful. I just can't believe--"I am ANGRY at this process," y'all. I am using that in conversation ASAP.
The funniest part was how several people kept saying that they'd developed characters "too complex" for a children's book. You know, considering that these people can't freewrite for two pages without whining, I highly doubt that.