Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Summer Writing Workshop

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And now, back to our regular programming: 

When I wrote about my Summer Writing Goals, I forgot to mention one very important component, the thing which has so far been amazing motivator: our officially unofficial Summer Writing Workshop.

Official, because we meet once a week, on Mondays, from 5PM to 7PM. We have a workshop schedule, and are expected to submit our pieces by Thursday. We discuss each piece like Actual Writers, making astute observations and helpful suggestions. We take this seriously, because we all want to improve our craft.

Unofficial, because we often drink beers while we workshop. We sometimes change our meeting location at the last minute, usually to a bar. We (well, some of us) take long smoke breaks in between pieces. We gossip. We giggle. We get our shit done, but we have fun doing it.

Officially, I'm loving this workshop. It consists of seven people, most of us in the same year. Some of us are using the opportunity to preview the novels we plan to write next year; others are taking the chance to submit things they wouldn't normally turn in to an academic setting. All of it, so far, has been a pleasure to read.

I'm in the camp of handing in things I wouldn't workshop otherwise. Stories that are a change of pace from my usual subjects, shorter pieces that I don't know what to do with. I'm also working on a novel, but I don't feel like it's in any shape to share just yet. Some people find guidance and input in the early stages of writing helpful; I am not one of those people. I like to squirrel things away until they're - not perfect - but acceptable. And my novel is nowhere near that yet.

The other benefit of the workshop is less personal, but no less important. I love reading the work of my peers. It's exciting to see what other people are working on, and it inspires me to stick with it, if only so I feel like I'm keeping up. Also, a few beers makes workshop a lot more pleasant, and gets us discussing things a lot faster. Professors, take note.