Wow. It’s a real good thing I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. If I had, those resolutions would already be shattered and I’d be feeling terrible right about now. As it is, I still feel bad, but I can dust myself off and move on. Look I’m posting! See?
I’m two weeks into the Writing Workshop I signed up for at the Thomas More institute and in general it’s working pretty well. The workshop that is, personally, I’ve got to step up my game!
I’ve had to work really really hard not to let my past experiences with my university’s writing workshop color my experiences here. Those experiences were negative and I had run into some pretty obnoxious stuff. Sadly, this really put me on my guard here.
It was my wife (again, what would I do without her?) who pointed out, as I ranted, that I was not really giving the workshop a chance and that I was letting the past color the present. She was right and once I let that go, I am definitely seeing a lot of good stuff in here.
All in all, it’s pretty good!
The make up of the group isn’t what I expected (this is not a bad thing). I seem to be the only one interested in a writing career (outside of the teachers), but I could be wrong on this. The people are very nice and polite and all are interesting. It’s a great thing.
There is a distinct lack of fantasy/sci-fi readers and in the first session as we got to know each other there were a few comments that I could have taken as slightly disparaging to the genres. I got an impression that authors like Stephen King are not really good writers. This sets my teeth on edge and I was afraid I was spending my time and money getting the same pretentious obnoxious artsy bullshit that I had to deal with in university.
To be blunt, I was a putz. I was wrong.
I may have been a bit sensitive and I was very gratified to be wrong.
I made a strong point that anyone who dismisses any genre outright as bad writing is not someone who’s opinion should really be listened to seriously. I’m glad to say in that this wasn’t the case here, it’s more of that whole bad experience coloring the present thing.
(Let me be clear, it’s completely ok to not like King, or hate Twilight or whatever, but whenever I hear someone dismiss any bestselling author, I call bullshit. King isn’t Hemingway, but there’s a lot he gets right. Ms Meyers, in my opinion, is a terrible writer, but again, there are things she does correctly for her market audience, so there’s something to learn there too! There is no conspiracy to sell books. Those authors may have gotten their shot in different ways, but once the book’s on the shelf, it sells for one reason: Because people want to read it.)
I’m glad my wife made me see the light. I started out irked, but I got over it. I’m a putz.
I’ve posted before that I’m a lucky guy right?
The second session was much looser. I still felt a bit out of place. Again, I have specific goals for this workshop and my own writing and I have been opting to work on my own niche and use what I learn to help what I’m working on now. To that end, my assignments do lean heavily on science fiction.
As I expected, I was the only one, but once I was able to read my stuff and discuss it, I was grateful to see that it was seriously discussed by the group. I was wrong to be on the defensive initially and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I gathered a ton of notes that will seriously help with my manuscript (even though this is a short story workshop).
I’m also very pleased to observe the creativity and skill of the others in the group, they may not be writing science fiction (and that’s ok), but what they are working on is very very good. I have a lot to learn from them.
The verdict? I don’t know if I will stop feeling out of place in that group, nor do I know if I will ever stop feeling a little self conscious reading my assignments. That’s on me, not on the group. I’m ok with that. The main thing I appreciate is that I’m already being inspired to the very best of my abilities because it’s clear there’s a lot there I can learn.
I think the next 10 weeks will be very interesting.