Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Let's Talk About The Writer's Workshop

So, the Writer's Workshop has had an age discrimination claim filed against it by a rejected applicant and I'm just not sure how to feel about it. In fact, I have a very conflicted relationship (in my head, anyway) with the Writer's Workshop as a whole. Not because I wouldn't jump at the chance to be a part of that- because hell, who wouldn't? But because it makes my semi-responsible adult brain itch uncomfortably at the idea of paying a lot of money for something that I can do for free.

Don't get me wrong: I get it. You get access to world class facilities, instructors and you get your work critiqued by other amazing writer's and learn how to be a better writer and usually go on to do great and awesome things. It's a hell of an opportunity and if you get it, you'd be dumb as a box of rocks not to take it. But at the same time, I think it's either a young person's game (if you get in, you're making a huge down payment on your future potential) or a late career kind of game (you've paid your bills, your kids are grown and almost out of the house and you want to finally pursue your passion kind of thing.) So in that sense, I think this complainant might maybe- maaaaaybe have a little bit of a point.

However, you don't need to be accepted into the Writer's Workshop to be a writer. And really that is what bugs me about this complaint. That it sort of implies that you need this validation to be considered a writer, which is complete bullshit.

Here's my writing philosophy: I want people to enjoy reading what I write. I'm not chasing the Great American Novel. I'm not after high literature or the Man Booker Prize or anything like that. I want people to enjoy the books I write. I want people like them- maybe leave a review or two on Amazon for 'em and suggest 'em to their friends. I want to tell a good story more than anything else. That's what I shoot for- I get that some people will probably dig what I write more than others. I get that some people will hate what I write. And all of that is fine! If you don't like my stuff, then don't read it...  I'm cool with that. But at the heart of why I write is that I want to create characters and stories that people will enjoy reading.

If I aim for that and somehow end up with the Great American Novel or a New York Times bestseller or the Man Booker Prize or hell, even something good enough to get into the Writer's Workshop, that will be a very nice bonus. But it's not what I'm aiming at.

And if I have a mild complaint about the Writer's Workshop it's probably that- they are aiming for literature. Which is totally fine, but I don't want to be the next Thomas Pynchon or David Foster Wallace, left to torture English majors and poor sadists like myself (Gravity's Rainbow is in my cue... it'll be take 3- or maybe 4 at trying to crack the damn thing and get through out). No, I want to be somebody's beach read. If I'm a good enough beach read to get into something like The Writer's Workshop someday, I'll be very very happy.

But until then, I'll just keep writing. Because at the end of the day, you don't need to get into a place like The Writer's Workshop to be a writer. Just sit down and do it every day. (Check.) Read everything you can get your hands on. (Check.) And if you're lucky, you'll create something that people love and if you're even luckier, the ideas will keep coming and the characters will spring to life on the page in front of you and the stories will keep getting better as you go.

You don't need something like The Writer's Workshop to be a writer. You don't even need it to be a good writer. If you really want to be a writer, get a pen, some paper, sit down and start.

It's that simple.

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