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!

My First Public Reading!

Last night I decided to attend a reading in Northampton, Massachusetts. I found the blurb in a local paper. It said: Writers Night Out, hosted by a group called Straw Dog Writers Guild.

I went, expecting to listen and maybe meet some other like-minded people. However, when I got there, the woman running it said that it was open for anyone to read. I was unprepared, and told her I would sit out this first reading.

As I sat, sipped my beer and waited for the show to start I thought,” Why not? What do I possibly have to lose by doing this, except my dignity?” So I went out to the car, got my computer (I never go anywhere without it these days) and put my name in the hat.

I got picked to read second. I was nervous but also thrilled. These are the kind of experiences I need to be having, need to be getting comfortable with. The reading went well. My legs were shaking throughout the 5 minutes. But it felt great to do it.

Along with my other writing goals, my new goal is this: attend some kind of literary event every week. Even in our small Pioneer Valley, there are lots of amazing events. Even if I don’t get to read, just being in the audience, networking and being involved in a literary community will be very rewarding.

I didn’t get a picture of myself, but I promise next time I will.

Image

My camera is terrible!
Next time I’ll get a picture of myself.

If any other bloggers out there have favorite literary activities, suggestions or comments, I would love to hear from you!

A Novel Idea

It hit me some time late last year. I knew what my New Years resolution for 2013 would be (and I’m not typically one for resolutions). I would finish my first novel by the end of the year. Brilliant, I thought. What a unique, interesting, admirable goal. I must get started right away.

The problem: the farther I go into this adventure, the more I realize how completely unoriginal this ambition is. I’m almost embarrassed now that I thought this would somehow be innovative, fresh, different. A young woman dropping out of the rat race to pursue her dreams. How romantic; I think I have my next book’s plot line.

It’s blown my mind seeing the community of writers out there. And the amazing thing is, what I’ve seen so far is only a minuscule fraction of what really exists. It’s been inspiring to see so many other young women following their dreams; working hard to pioneer new paths. It’s been intimidating to see so many of them thriving, growing, publishing.

Yes, it gives me hope. People do this, it happens. For some. But for how many? What I can do to give myself the best chance possible is to work hard, be patient and learn something new each day.

So far, thanks to the great online community of writers, it’s been pretty easy to do. I look forward to working with you and being inspired by you for many months to come.