The ALEF literary workshop is a biannual event where all participants have the same rights and obligations: they must submit a short story to be discussed, while at the same time they have to comment on the other participants’ stories—that is to say, there is no tutor. The idea behind this procedure is that through it the writers can make their texts better, while at the same time they get the chance to delve deeper into the art of writing by studying other people’s stories, not as mere readers but as editors. Tradition has it that during the workshop weekend, large quantities of food, beer and coffee are consumed, something that is said to add to its long-standing success.
The first workshop was organised in November 1999 by George Goulas. The stories were photocopied and handed out to the participants. On the day of the workshop, Bill Clinton was visiting Greece, and the access to the Athens city centre, where it was to take place, was blocked. However, everyone found their way there. Maybe we didn’t realise it back then, but this burning desire on behalf of the writers to meet with their peers was the biggest indication of the workshop’s longevity. Right after that, the literary workshop is put under the auspices of ALEF. After the third workshop, Vasso Christou and Kostas Charitos undertake the organisation, while the workshop finds a welcoming home at the club’s headquarters—George and Antonia Katsavou’s house. From the sixth workshop on the stories are distributed electronically, while after the seventh, the organisation becomes biannual, in an attempt to cover the increased demand for participation. From the nineteenth workshop on the stories are distributed anonymously, in an attempt to make commentary more objective, but, as a side effect, this also gives rise to the amusing game of “Find Who Wrote What”. At the same time, Michalis Manolios is added to the organisational team and remains there until the thirty fifth workshop.