Since I last checked in, I’ve been to the Denise Little Short Story Workshop held on the Oregon Coast. An incredible experience — for a great write up, check out Dean Wesley Smith’s account here.
Now that I’ve returned, a bunch of other writers have asked me why I went. Now, I had my rational reasons for going — I wanted to learn the short story form, I wanted to go to a craft workshop and write instead of speak on panels, I wanted to meet other working writers. But to be honest, I really ended up going because of a strong gut feeling that I *needed* to go. A compulsion, really, not a rational decision.
I often get these urges to write a particular story, so I’ve learned to take these gut feelings very seriously. Rarely do I get them about life choices these days — I’m in homeostasis at the moment (though I also get the deep sense that is about to change too — more about that when I know more).
This workshop gave me so much — it was so worth it! I think the market for short fiction is going to keep growing and growing, so I am working on developing my short story chops.
I also want to learn to write faster and the DL workshop is great for that. All of us wrote at least two stories for the workshop; some of us wrote more. Submitting short fiction, you need to be disciplined and organized, and I learned how to approach the market, how to research it, and how to write for it. Pretty amazing for a few short days.
I learned a ton — so often, learning is not a linear phenomenon where writing is concerned. I learned how to write a short story. I wrote some inventory. I got the incredible affirmation of four editors taking a look at my work. And I made connections with about 40 of the most creative, talented, open-hearted, and hilarious writers on the planet.
But even more, I learned about me as a writer. I need to approach my work as gently and with as much reverence as these acclaimed editors did with every story they critiqued at the workshop. All of them were scrupulously fair, they didn’t give false praise, but never did they shred a piece of work. Never. And I am guilty of shredding my own stuff without mercy. Never again.
If you ever get the chance, I strongly recommend these writing workshops on the Coast. A real life-changer for me.