Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not a book, but a one-of-kind workshop...

By R.J. Harlick

What's your favorite writing craft book of all time? Sell it to us

Like many of us, when I first tried my hand at fiction writing I knew very little about the craft. With my mind brimming with story ideas, I was too impatient to get started, so rather than spending time learning about the craft, I sat down at my computer and started tapping away at the keyboard. At some point I realized I needed to know more about creative writing techniques, so I bought a few books, which I did find very helpful. Unfortunately, they have long since gone astray and as helpful as they were, I can’t remember their particulars, like title or author. Sorry.

But I can tell you about the one thing that influenced me greatly as a writer. It was a course I took fairly early on in my writing career. It was a week long intensive writing workshop that covered much more than the creative writing process.  It was also the first time I came out of the closet so to speak and declared myself a writer.  Up until then the only person who knew I was trying my hand at writing was my husband. It was also my first exposure to other aspiring authors. At that time I didn’t know anyone who either wrote fiction or wanted to, so I really enjoyed finally being able to talk about writing with like minded people. It was a game changer and it helped confirm my decision to become a writer.

The summer workshop was offered by Humber College’s School of Creative Writing located in Toronto. The day was split into two components. The morning was devoted to the writing workshops in which we students were divided into small groups and paired with a well known author, who led the workshop. This included discussions on creative writing techniques and critiques of the writing samples we had submitted as a requirement of registration.

The afternoons were spent learning about the publishing world from the experts; publishers, editors and agents. The workshop leaders also spoke about their writing process. They also had a panel of first time published authors sharing their stories on getting published. We were even given tips on how to do a reading, should we be so lucky to reach that point, and given the opportunity to actually do one, should we brave enough to put our hand up.

All in all, it was a fabulous week, well worth the money. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to become a fiction writer. When I attended, the workshop was offered in the summer. I notice now that it is held in the Fall. I can't get the link working so here is the url if you want to learn more. http://www.humber.ca/scapa/programs/school-writers/fall-workshop-creative-writing

My rant for the day - There seem to be so many quirks with the blog software that it sometimes takes me longer to load the blog than it does to write it. 


Catriona McPherson said...

That workshop sounds scary! Did anyone put their hand up?

RJ Harlick said...

Surprisingly, Catriona, many students put their hands up to try their hand at a reading, including moi-meme. And it turned out not to be as scary as I thought it would be. And I've been following those reading tips ever since. - short and finish on a cliff hanger. Overall it was a fabulous workshop

Paul D. Marks said...

RJ, I can relate to what you said about wanting to just jump in without really knowing how to do it. You sort of learn to sink or swim. But then it is good to learn the basics too, from books or courses.

Susan C Shea said...

Workshops are hard if done right. Just read a FB post by Sara Paretsky, who said she has her students visit the same outdoor spot seven days in a row and write a description of what they see each day, working to get right the hardest, most ephemeral bits, like the color of the light on the surface of the water. Whew.