Monday, June 3, 2013
The Company of Other Writers
For the longest time I've been territorial around other writers, and I don't know where I got that from. I guess it had something to do with that I know how much luck goes into being successful, or maybe I'm just easily put off by the notion that seemingly everyone thinks they're a writer. Or I want to be better than them and this leads to hostility. I don't know.
However! I recently took a Fiction Workshop class at the University of Colorado, and it was the best thing I could've done for myself as a writer. I produced four really solid short stories during that class from prompts that I initially thought would produce nothing, and they were made stronger by the requirement that i hand them off to other writers for critique. Talking to my professor and classmates led me to belief that I'd lucked into an extraordinary workshop, since every person in that class was very serious about their writing and open to critique, an that isn't usually the case. The discussions we had in over stories were truly enlightening, and the entire experience was just something I'd call empowering. See, cause I write strange stories and am not always sure that they are coherent, but the stories I read in that workshop were way stranger and way more awesome, so I decided to just embrace my oddity and in so doing produced what I think is some of my best work.
It also helped that I felt comfortable handing unfinished work to the other writers in the workshop, knowing that what I had written so far was just a nonsensical blob of strangeness. I gave them something that made no sense, and they gave me feedback on which parts of it made the least sense, so I expanded on those parts and made them non-nonsensical. In this way I turned two very neat but very pointless stories into fun shorts that are just so /me/ that...
Oh, hey, yeah! I found a writing identity that feels good, and grew confident in it, and produced a decent body of work in it. All of this in a few short months, thanks to a great group of writers.
Soon I'll be relocating to Texas. I'm going to Houston to pursue a Creative Writing degree, to settle into a long-term home and get a long-term job, and I'm getting married, too. One of the first things I'm going to do once I'm there is seek out the company of other writers, hopefully some who write science fiction and fantasy and can appreciate my flavor of gruesome near-horror. As much as I appreciate having someone to look over my own stories, I've also learned to enjoy critiquing the stories of others, and it's exciting to see someone polishing and revising something they wrote that I already like, and see it getting better and better every time.Being territorial around other writers is a really dumb thing for me to have ever done. I believe now that my fellow human is my greatest resource, and am now resolved to appreciate every writer I meet and maintain those connections.