Writer’s workshop and networking


I’m trying to stay involved and keep doing healthy things while dealing with grief. Some days are bad – usually the days I skip my morning pages. Others are fine, mostly, but then I flag and need my meds. I’ve managed to loosely maintain a workout schedule, and to keep up with my Examiner posts (although now I really need to start getting to museums) and to attend writer’s workshops, etc. I had to miss the last three workshop weeks because of the hospice and funeral situation, and coming back to it the group had shrunk considerably – evidently there’s some schism between the poets and the prose writers. The poets enjoyed the bulk of accommodation before, but more long-form writers necessitated a change. A ruling party never likes it when cultural shifts cause them to lose dominance.

My last experience with a writing workshop was in grad school, and despite my best attempts to get people involved in them later, most people were not understanding the concept of presenting mostly finished work to other writers who would then, hopefully gently, point out any holes. This was graduate school, so even in the better workshops there was an aspect of mean-spirited competition, especially in the poetry workshops in which I was forced to participate.

Thankfully, my current workshop is nothing like that. In a way my workshop experience reflects my experience with graduate school: there was some strange dividing line between poets and prose writers, and as a rule prose writers seemed to me more affable and open to change, more willing to adjust. I think it’s because longer writing means much longer rewrites. While it may be possible to execute a perfect poem in one or two drafts, those of us who write prose have to accept sooner that our children aren’t perfect and do what we can to make them good. I’ve also found that writing and studying poetry makes me a better prose writer, so I sincerely hope a few of the poets come back. Given the down market for poetry outside of greeting cards, I can understand being reactive – they’ve culturally had their backs against the wall for awhile.

I hope the situation resolves itself and we bring in some poets who are game to a slightly different system. I also think there should be a spoken word night where we read excerpts of our works to family and friends with cookies and stuff.

Additional reading:
Evaluating non-paying markets
About feedback and criticism