On the Eighth Day God Attended a Writing Workshop

"God Joins a Writing Workshop and the Old Testament Critique Doesn't Go Well," flash fiction by RL Maizes

On the Eighth Day God Attended a Writing Workshop

God Joins a Writing Workshop and the Old Testament Critique Doesn’t Go Well

Jason (workshop leader): God, do you want to start by reading a few pages? Maybe get to Wednesday or Thursday of creation and stop there.

God clears Their throat, reads.

Jason: Thanks, God. By the way, do you prefer God or Yaweh? Of course, during the discussion we’ll just call you The Author.

God: My friends call me Ya.

Jason: Ya it is. Okay, folks, so what did we think of the Old Testament?

Levi, flipping through pages: The beginning was a quite a slog. Does anyone honestly care about the firmament? (Workshop participants shake their heads no.) Maybe just start with the apple incident and give us information about the rest of creation when we need it.

Selena, looking up from her laptop: Is the book supposed to be nonfiction? Because I don’t get how a couple like Adam and Eve who are just starting out can afford to live in Eden when I can’t even make the rent on my Jackson Heights studio.

God: Can I just—

Jason: Sorry, Ya. The Author doesn’t get to talk during the discussion. You’ll have a chance later.

God: I could smite you.

Jason: You could, but then you’d never get to hear what I think of your work.

God tugs Their beard, appears frustrated.

Alexa, cradling her kombucha: Why does Eve get blamed for everything? She didn’t force Adam to eat the apple for God’s sake—nothing personal, Ya. Where’s Adam’s agency? And I think the term “helpmeet” is offensive. I’m guessing The Author is a Philip Roth fan.

Jason: Moving on, what did people think of the flood?

Selena, sighing deeply: I found Noah pretty unlikeable. I mean, the whole planet’s getting wiped out and the guy just sails into the sunset with his pets. Also, the market for eco-fiction is saturated.  

Amar, opening a bag of chips: I wasn’t sure if the dove carrying an olive branch worked. What if you had the bird return with something else, like a waterlogged mouse or a rusted sled from Noah’s childhood or—

God: If I could just—

Jason: Please, Ya. You’ll have your chance. Levi, did you have something you wanted to say? You have the pained look of a writer who isn’t the center of attention.

Levi, flipping pages: I’m not sure what point The Author is trying to make with the Tower of Babel. Do They have something against construction workers? It’s really classist.

Rina: And the way it’s described as “a tower whose top may reach unto heaven.” Freudian much?

Jason: Anybody notice any similarities between the building of the Ark and the building of the Tower? No one? Okay, then. Let’s move on to Egypt.

Selena: The parting of the red sea was great. Very cinematic. Nice work, Ya.

God blushes. Pretends to take notes.

Jason: How did people feel about the plagues?

Amar, eating a chip: Having ten is redundant. Do you really need more than one insect? Have locusts or flies, but not both.

Alexa, shaking her head: Making blood a plague is anti-woman. We all know who bleeds. Sips her kombucha. I’m guessing The Author is a Norman Mailer fan.

Levi, flipping to the front of the manuscript: Can we talk about the title? I’m assuming Old Testament is just a working title. How about something more exciting, like Secrets of the Israelites Revealed?

Amar: Or Camel Ride to Destiny. And what if The Author told the story from the point of view of the camel or, even better, one of the humps?  

Jason: Oooooh, I like that. Leaving the title for a minute, what did folks think about the begats?

Alexa, Rina, Selena, Amar, Levi groan.

Jason: That’s what I thought, too. Kind of slow. Can anyone think of a reason why The Author might have included them?

God: Could I please just say one thing?

Jason extracts pencil from his man bun, taps it on his pad.

Jason: Absolutely not.

Rina: Maybe They included the begats because They were hoping to get paid by the word.

Selena and Rina snicker.

God rummages in a backpack, pulls out a lightning bolt.

Jason, smirking: Any other parts of the book that you liked?

Rina: I like where Cain murders Abel, but I think Cain’s character should have been developed a little more. I mean, what do we really know about him other than that he was a husbandmen? And what the hell is a “husbandmen,” anyway?

Jason: It’s a farmer.

Rina: Why not just say that then?

Alexa: I thought the whole book was gratuitously violent, like The Author was hoping HBO would pick it up.

Jason: That’ll do it. Great discussion. Ya, I hope it was helpful. Do you have questions? Thoughts? Comments?

A bolt of lightning takes out the workshop.

God, on Their throne, talking to angels: Maybe I should try poetry.

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