I didn't know what to expect of Rishi Reddi - no preconceived notions whatsoever. I did absolutely love her story in the 2005 BASS, "Justice Shiva Ram Murthy," and I am very anxious to get that Karma collection now.
Anyhow, the title was: "Microscopic Truthfulness"
What I liked is that Rishi seemed very sincere in wanting the participants to get as much as possible from her presence and opened by asking us what had drawn us to attend her workshop. [Incidentally, I forgot to mention that during each of these sessions there were SIX workshops from which to choose.] Rishi's was very well attended.
We looked at an excerpt from a story and gleaned information from its details and from those observations (type of car, descriptions of others, the kinds of music playing, etc.), we get more than stereotype. She said something to the effect, you can use a broad brush, but must also do the detail work to avoid that stereotype. I have to add, she also said one of my observations was very astute - like a little blushing schoolgirls I was - but it pointed out to me that even the smallest of clues will be picked up by your good readers. I guess what that means to me, is to write for your very best readers, those that want and desire that (and if someone doesn't get it, it's all right).
I loved looking at the detail under a microscope; I tend to use the generalization too much, and bringing the universal into context by using the detail is a talent I hope now to develop. (This is paraphrased from a book called "If You Want to Write," Brenda Ueland).
Someone asked a question regarding the truthfulness of magic realism or fantasy, and I ADORED her answer.
She used a phrase - "tyranny of the real" - in describing how we need to sift through the details, use the fact (even push it away) to get the truth. In order to establish authenticity, the true authorial voice, we need the underlying details that allow a reader to "buy into" our fiction. The difference between saying a coffee shop on the corner, or saying the Starbucks at 63rd and Broadway is that by being specific, it doesn't matter that the reader has or hasn't been there; he can visualize and imagine because there's no question the author knows (again, whether or not he has or hasn't been there!)
We also did an exercise that she drew upon from Ron Carlson: Person, Place, and Song, and several people read theirs aloud.
This session was such a pleasure to have attended, and by all means if you have the chance, do see her in person.
By the way, is anyone familiar with Tao Lin? I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years ago when we were both reading at Opium.print #1 Launch Party. Anyhow, he's like featured in the book section of Time Out New York this week. Very cool. I hope to see him read on Sunday. I'm also going to a reading tonight (and I've already forgotten who I'm going to see...).
Did I mention I got a job? I'm hostessing, starting Tuesday, so I'm trying to cram all the evening activites I can into the next four days. All free, of course!