Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Writer Writes. Right?

Dad, third from left, and his brother, first on left, visiting their old school in Holland, circa 1950. Not the wooden shoes and Oompa-Loompa headgear.

Think back on the best writing workshop you ever attended. And while you're thinking, I'll tell you a story.

I don't have much to think back on when it comes to writing workshops as, in my academic career, I attended only one, with Raymond Federman, who never actually got around to reading the story that got me into the workshop in the first place. For the morbidly curious, the story may be read here.

I then entered the world of community journalism, foolishly thinking my mediocre skills as a storyteller would be put to good and profitable use. And while for the most part I was right in that assumption, I never really did get to write the kind of stuff I really wanted to write. So I made the leap into technical writing and really, really never get the change to write the kind of stuff I really want to write. So that's why, in the past year, I turned my drive to post inanities to this blog into a drive to actually turn the inanities into a book, which I have done. I'm now polishing the first book and working on the second one, and I'm happy.

That brings me first to the picture I use to introduce this post: Dad and Sjaak were getting ready to leave the country and come to the United States, so they went on one last little visit to the places of their youth, figuring they'd never see them again. But Dad, I know, got to go back to most of them, because he took us there (I wish I'd taken better pictures of that trip). I now find myself in kind of a similar position, as in about a month I'll be conducting a writing workshop.

That's kind a scary. As far as authorial chops go, I have a constellation of dim journalistic stars on which to sculpt a tapestry of competence, as Dilbert's boss might say. I have my unpublished book and the unified rabble of other started but unfinished ideas, plus a slightly shinier collection of Uncharted bits to show for my long minutes of writerial toil. But do I have what is necessary to inspire other writers?


So I'm going to rely on them finding inspiration in other authors, and in themselves, to push them along.

If you're interested, a draft of the workshop is here:

I Should Have Written It Down                                                                   

I hope through the exercises I've outlined here to help our Explorers more fully capture their experiences and to offer them strategies for putting those experiences on paper. I'm not sure if any of this is going to work, but I'm hopeful.

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