They say you should never meet your heroes. This time they were wrong.
I was frightened of this workshop. Scared that Margaret Atwood would be a monster and I’d be the worst incarnation of my oftentimes overbearing self. Worried that the group would not cement. That we might not have much to offer each other.
The workshop was different to others I have done. She grew into us as a group. Distant at first, softening each day as it became apparent that there be no monsters here.
She excavated our opening pages, line by line, unravelling intention, unpicking sentence seams. She gardened our stories. Pruned and weeded. Cleared their roots. Slashed and burned our choking undergrowth.
Novels germinated around that Key West wicker table. Characters evolved, thick and fleshy, fresh apocalypses were reined in or unleashed. When she finally sent us packing, it was with the blessings of pollination and flourish.
Without ever playing the celebrity card, she posed for our photos, signed our books, shared historical phantasmagoria, each snippet as priceless as plunder from the deepest galleon’s hold.
I remain in awe of her wit, intelligence and grace.
Back row: Kelly Thompson, Vanessa Blakeslee, Corey Ginsberg, Denton Loving, Lauren Hamlin, Sabra Winteer, Alva Moore, Cat Sparks
Front: Spencer Perry, Margaret Atwood, Claire Sherchik, Alexandra Tilson. Missing: Jacquira Diaz