For those unfamiliar with how the Odyssey Workshop works, it is a six week long course that includes lectures and full-class critiques. There are added Q&A sessions with visiting authors and editors (though “visiting” is only loosely used this year given everything was virtual), a Slam event, and many small side meetings and check-ins.
I’m going to admit, I have always been terrified of anything that draws people’s eyes toward me. The more people there are, the more terrified I get. The more time I have to think about it beforehand, the more anxious I am. There doesn’t need to be a stage. There doesn’t need to be a microphone. There just needs to be people, the anxiety going up in an exponential way according to the total.
So there were a number of situations about the workshop I knew I was going to be muscling through by sheer force of will. First up: the dreaded icebreaker meet.
None one likes these, least of all anyone with even a modicum of social anxiety, and being on a virtual setting does not change things. [I did have bare feet (as I did for 99% of the workshop) to give me a small level of comfort.] I got to meet my fellow Odyssians for the first time via their heads, torsos and backgrounds. We did a typical icebreaker game that divided us into breakout rooms a few of us at a time, and that had the typical stilted conversations that come with having no idea who you’re talking to.
It feels like forever ago now though. Like we’d all been different people. Nervous. Anticipating. Our stories not run through the gauntlet.
Would you like to know one amazing benefit of virtual workshops? You will NEVER forget anyone’s name. Names are literally plastered on each person’s screen, the chat box will be filled with names before whatever that person types into the conversation, the spelling exactly how that person wishes it to be spelled. If you’re the type to meet someone and promptly forget who they are, well, this would have been a perfect setup for you.
That was the first night. Then started our daily lectures that would last a few hours. A break for lunch. Then back on to critique the daily stories that had been submitted.
<3 Marie C.