We had our last day of workshop on Sunday. I have to say: it blew by. I can’t believe we’re done. On the other side of it, though: it was a pretty excellent experience.
Not that I didn’t begin with any reservations. In fact, I had a moderate case of buyer’s remorse that first week. It had been 4+ years since I’d been in a workshop. I wasn’t sure about my ability to pull off science fiction. And it was a new format: everything conducted via the writing website, Wet.Ink, and over video chat.
(We did have our fair share of technical difficulties, by the way, but it worked out.)
With a year’s worth of teaching composition under my belt, I think I had forgotten a bit what it’s like to talk about writing with people who all actually want to be writing. Which is to say: awesome. The enthusiasm and advice of my teacher and classmates was great. It was a much gentler approach than MFA workshop, largely due to the quick pace (we were turning in first drafts except for the final portfolio). But I didn’t mind that; I don’t think MFA needs to be as harsh it is sometimes. And I include some of my own past critiques in that.
But obviously a major point of this particular exercise was to get back to writing fiction and I am so happy to say it worked. I got three complete stories and three WIPs out of just six weeks of writing. I revised two for portfolio. And I’m in the process of sending stuff out for the first time in a while.
I will say: I forgot how jittery submissions make me. As I think I’ve said in the past–the key is to have other projects to work on and to have a solid handful of pieces out at a time. That way you can’t obsess about one market’s response so much. I’m not to the handful of pieces point, but I do have other projects.
Because that’s the other positive effect of this experience. I feel motivated. Energetic. I want to finish the stories I started this summer; I also want to start working on the enormous backlog I’ve built up over the last couple years of relative stagnation. I’m still trying to avoid the submissions deadline-driven approach, although you can’t really avoid thinking about them altogether. I do think I can find ways to cultivate and maintain space, which will help.
Lastly, it’s always unspeakably nice to make new writer friends. I’m hoping we can find ways to keep our little group in touch. Writing’s a lonely enough endeavor on its own. We should add people to our support systems whenever we can. (And return that support!)
tl;dr: Loved my workshop, excited to be writing again, will probably never love sending out submissions, and people can be pretty cool.