An intelligent looking man sits at the front of a classroom behind a desk. He’s framed perfectly in the middle, with a pile of novels to one side and a laptop to the other. He’s using the reflection in his monitor to straighten out the creases in his grey blazer jacket. Afterward, he combs back his slick salt-and-pepper hair, then smirks revealing a set of sparkling white teeth. “Handsome bastard…”, he whispers to himself, satisfied, before giving himself a wink. You could tell he was an author because he had a pocket full of pens and a little notepad in the breast pocket of his jacket. He checked the time on his expensive-looking knockoff watch, then stood up to greet the gaze of thirty anxious looking faces staring back at him. He belted out, “Welcome, to the first day of the rest of your lives!”
The group shot glances to each other from around the room, smiled politely and then began to clap. The author inhaled deeply, closed his eyes slightly and tilted his head back with pride. He continued, “This 12-week writing workshop is going to change your life entirely. For those of you who don’t know me, I’d like to encourage you to climb out from under that rock you’ve been living beneath. I’m Stewart Duncan, the award-winning author of numerous books, including The Cure for the Writing Boor and Rake in the Dough by Going Commando.”
Stewart opens his eyes suddenly to catch them stifling their laughter. “Hahaha!” he laughed forcefully and preposterously. The room fell dead silent again. “If you want to behave like children, I’ll treat you like children. This class is for serious writers only. Just what do you find so funny?”
A young brunette woman with glasses raised her hand at the front of the classroom. The author points to her casually, before dryly inquiring, “Yes, you, what’s your name?”
The girl replied in a sweet voice “My name’s Angela, and I was just curious about your book title… Why no underwear?”
The author huffs and grins, “Ha! Simple minds…”.
He then proceeds to pace up and down the aisle between their desks, speaking with an air of authority, “…because underwear is oppressive. And if you want to free yourself from the status quo, you need to begin by freeing yourself from basic oppression. You’ve spent all your lives being told what to wear, what to eat, how to speak, how to write. You follow your orders trying to be a more precious version of everyone else. Well, you cease to be unique and instead you produce varying pieces of simple mimicry based around popular opinion. You’ve become an emulator of someone else’s idealistic fantasies. In this workshop you will be forced to think outside the box of mediocrity and fall deeper into the realm of genius.”
The author smiles to himself with pride, and then catches sight of the woman raising her hand again. He blurts out “What now?”
The girl says timidly, “But if we don’t use others as a guide, how do we improve?”
The professor puts his hands on his belly and has a hearty chuckle. The students all look confused about whether it was mocking or not, but it was uncomfortable for all. Stewart dramatically wiped a tear from his eye and flicked it to the ground. The author approached the young girl’s desk and puts his hand on her shoulder, then looked straight into her eyes, “because you’re going to learn from the best my dear…”
He drew closer to her face and whispered, “…by the time you’re finished with this workshop, you’re going to be writing magic!”
The girl tracked his hand in her peripheral vision and cringed slightly, biting her bottom lip. The author withdrew his hand and strode back to the front of the classroom. He threw both of his arms up in the air in exasperation suddenly. Then afterward, he turned to face the class again and pet a pile of books sitting on his work desk, “This will be your reading material for the next 12 weeks”.
The same woman raised her hand again, “Sir, are those your books?”
The professor began to clap slowly, gradually increasing the tempo over time. He flapped his arms gesturing for the others to join in, “Let’s all clap for Angela. She was the first to point out the obvious; Clap, clap, clap!”
The others awkwardly join in on the clapping while eyeballing the clock on the wall. “Yes, we’ll be reading and discussing these books, which I’ve written. The experiences of these novels will destroy your existing writing paradigms of what constitutes great literature. I assure you, your writing will transcend along with you!”
A young man with wavy blond hair raised his hand. The author locked eyes with him and nodded, “You there…”.
The man straightened up in his seat, “Will we be required to buy these books, or will they be provided to us as part of the course?”
“Will you be required to buy the books?”, the professor stresses the words ironically and the man drops his head on his desk with an audible thump.
He continues, “Would you not want to be compensated for your quality literature? This workshop is a road to success that’s been paved with pure gold, but it is a toll route…”
The author looked at his watch, “But that’ll be all for today! If you haven’t already purchased the text, I have extras behind my desk. I also have Author Duncan bookmarks for sale! Cash only and there are no refunds on this workshop, so don’t ask. Read Chapters 1-3 of Cure for the Writing Boor for next week please.”
The students gathered their belongings and rushed out of the classroom sullenly, muttering beneath their breath. Stewart took a seat behind his desk again and began again to refine his aesthetic appearance in front of the monitor. He twisted the tips of his mustache between his fingertips and grinned, “Clever bastard…”