(Ateliers d’écriture Elisabeth Bing, Paris)
The writing workshop is a welcoming land.
But what if there’s no physical space, no door to open, no smile ? How can we « welcome » in the immaterial context of an internet workshop ?
Welcome each student, without a welcoming smile. Say something about ourselves, don’t ask them any question, tell them the rules of the workshop and the freedom offered inside these rules. Tell them the uniqueness of the relationship between the teacher and each student. I will send you feedback on your work, you will be the only one who reads it. During module 4, I will remind you of a text you wrote at the beginning of module 1, “remember that text that had been so difficult to write, that character you created who hasn’t stopped growing and hasn’t stopped surprising you – and your readers – ever since”.
Welcome the group without a common table, without teapot, without eyes set upon each other. Welcome the group inside a shared project. “About the other students, you will only know their first name and their writing. Going through the various modules, you’ll become a group, you’ll become expert readers one for the other, friendly yet never (over)indulgent.”
Welcome the texts without the emotion caused by reading aloud. Read texts that have been rewritten, have ripened, into which students have put all their talent, all their objectives, beliefs, questions. “I’ll transfer your text to the group, like a garland, like collection, in the expectation of feedbacks.”
Welcome feedbacks without the nuancing glances, the hesitation, the caution that usually accompany them in a material workshop. Authors/readers will have taken time to reflect on the meaning, analyze the details. Soon everybody will know that one can be direct and honest. Together we will welcome feedbacks like new texts.