The Anxiety and Excitement of a Workshop

For the past three weeks I have been participating in a workshop at Flying Object in Hadley, Massachusetts. The workshop, run by an amazing writer named Rachel Glaser, is called “Serious Fiction.” The requisites were previous experience in workshops, an sample of writing and a letter of interest, and most importantly a serious interest in writing,

There are twelve women participating in the group, each one with a unique and interesting perspective. The pieces submitted so far have ranged from flash fiction, prose poetry, short stories and other original formatting.

It has been great experience reading my peers’ writing, critiquing and listening to other people’s feedback.

Last Monday, I submitted my first piece for critique. I decided to submit the first two chapters of my manuscript. My first inclination had been to submit a different scene I was struggling with, but Rachel made a good point: when submitting a manuscript for review or possible publication the beginning is so important.

Even if I am happy with how it is, who knows what kind of amazing suggestions or ideas I could get? So I decided to submit the beginning of my manuscripts in hopes of receiving great feedback.

I have been anxious all week. I am very excited to hear what kind of critique people will say in next Monday’s workshop. No matter what, it will be a helpful learning experience.

What experiences have other writers had with workshops? Have you found the feedback helpful, distressing, obnoxious? I would love to hear from all of you bloggers out there and  as always, Happy Writing!

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Joining a Writing Group

At the beginning of the year one of my goals was to join a writing group. It is an important way not only to connect with other people who share similar interests but also to receive important feedback and critique.

Since I am not living in a big city my options are rather limited. I was surprised to find how few writing groups there are in Western Massachusetts. Here are a few that I’ve found:

Northampton, MA: I was in touch with the leader of this writing group. It is a ten-week course with weekly sessions. Each session includes a writing exercise followed by reading. However, only two people get “positive feedback only” on their writing. The other people just get to read with no feedback (otherwise, in the words of the group leader, we would be there all night). I don’t really see the point in receiving only positive feedback, but maybe some other people out there have had good experiences with this technique. I will go to a trial class in two weeks to check it out.

Amherst, MA: This is another ten-week session with weekly meetings. Writing ranges from fiction to poetry to essays. Sounds pretty interesting, but one of the things that makes me hesitate is that I would be the youngest person there, by at least two decades. I know it is important to make connections with writers of all generations, but I do feel like the age gap may make it a little harder for them to understand my writing. I’m going to a trial class this week to see what it’s like.

Hadley, MA: This is an eight-week workshop whose participants are mostly post-college writers. The spring session is focusing only on fiction, which is great. Participants will get two workshops where they share work with the class, receive line edits as well as a one-page critique of the piece. I think this will be the best group for me to join, due to the age and interest of the participants and what I can expect to receive in terms of feedback.

I am very excited to be joining this group, along with my good friend Halie Mills, whose writing of poetry and prose inspires me. I hope that being surrounded by other young writers will help give me further perspective as I continue working on my manuscript.

If any readers out there have any comments or suggestions about finding a writing group I would love to hear from you!