New Year, New Class, New Starts

First, the business. New writing workshop starting January 27th, 2015.

Now, the musings. There’s something about the New Year that has everyone ready to put the old behind and make a fresh start. This time last year, I had well and truly overloaded myself with writing-relating activity–MFA playwriting class, a short fiction craft class with Zsuzsi Gartner, a novel mentorship with Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Nothing like working in three genres at once to make the mind melt into warm goo.

And in contrast? I ending the year taking an extended writing break. Once Nanowrimo and the Story Intensive wrapped up, I just stopped everything for a while.  It felt great, until I had to start again. I went from resolving to write more to being determined to write less.

Like many people, I tend to get all-or-nothing about writing. Either I’m trying to take on so much that I cannot possibly do it all, or I am doing so little that starting up again seems impossible.  That even balanced daily dose of creativity seems against my nature.

The thing is, I think we all get a bit all-or-nothing about writing. We think “Oh, I didn’t meet my word count goal. I Facebooked and watched TV instead. I am terrible and will now shame-eat cookies and wine, thus killing several resolutions at once.”

And then… we figure it’s useless and we aren’t real writings and the beating up on ourselves begins because darn it, we tried to do everything perfectly the first time and it didn’t work so why try at all?

You know, writing never works that way. Writing is never everything perfect the first time. (If only!) The process of writing isn’t even perfect all the time. The reality of it is more a lot of doggedly trying again, doing things without knowing if it will work or not, and well, writing a lot of crap. It’s sitting down with time and good intentions and then the cell phone rings and you knock your cup of tea over and the ink on your notes run but you can’t do anything about because it was an emergency call, and by the time that is all over and done with, somehow you lost a month.

You might beat yourself up here and tell yourself that you aren’t really a writer.

But the thing is, you will, eventually, sit down with good intentions again. You’ll make your yearly resolution to write more, because every year, you take stock and remember: This is the thing I want to do!  And you try again.

That is what makes you really a writer.

It’s a new year and a new start. How about this year, along with resolving to write more, to write daily, to complete that novel…. you also resolve to not be so hard on yourself? To let yourself screw up and write more anyway? To call yourself, even if only privately to your mirror, a writer.

Happy new year, Writer.

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News! (Teaching and publishing and Margaret Atwood)

I rarely write about myself on this blog (I have Facebook for that) but I do have some exciting news in my writing life that I’d like to share.

The first is that I have been selected by Sarah Selecky to help her teach the newly-launched the Story Intensive master class. Sarah has been a great source of inspiration to me.  I remember taking a class with her shortly after I’d been rejected to the point where my own writerly confidence was severely shaken.  She’d had no idea what was going on in my head at the time, but 90 minutes of of class time later I was recharged and refreshed and ready to write.

What I didn’t know, when Sarah asked me about TA’ing, is that she’s developed a new writing master class with Margaret Atwood.

Yes, that said Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Goddamn Atwood!  I was excited to help teach this class before but now, if I wasn’t TA’ing I’d be taking it.

Sarah posts some details about how this all came about on her website.  But in her words:

The Story Intensive is an online writing program that’s set up like an MFA workshop in short fiction, with a focus on generating new short stories.

The Story Intensive provides the scaffolding, feedback, deadlines and accountability that a self-paced writing program can’t offer. This program is for you if you find it hard to write alone. It helps you recognize that your writing is important, and it makes your writing a priority. It will be a transformative experience.

You can sign up for The Story Intensive here.  (Note: affiliate link.)

If you don’t feel ready for The Story Intensive, I highly recommend Sarah’s self-directed writing program, The Story is a State of Mind.  The excellent thing about SSMind is that you work at your own pace, when you have time.

As a thank you for signing up through my affiliate link, I’m offering a free critique of any short story.

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The next news I have is that one of my short stories is coming out in an anthology.  That is, a real book that can really be purchased from real stores.

It’s called Friend. Follow. Text. and it explores the intersection between literary fiction and social media. My story is about a text message fight. At a wedding.

The official launch is October 1st, but you can pre-order from Amazon.  If you are on Facebook, please like the page for introductions to the writers who have contributed, articles about how social media has changed the way we communicate, and details about publication and its associated events.

There are some tremendous authors included in this book, including Steven Heighton, Heather Birrell, Zoe Whittall, Greg Kearney and Jessica Westhead.  It’ll be a great read.

That’s about it for now.  I have a few other things that are in the works, so hopefully there’s more news soon.