Oof, the end of July. My short story workshop just wrapped up at the end of last week and I have a month to make my final changes/improvements to my story before the final submission to the anthology.
This is my third year going through the workshop, and I swear, every year I learn more and my writing gets better, which of course is amazing!
Maybe I should back up and tell the beginning of the story first.
Every year, the writing group I’m in, Author’s Tale, publishes a short story anthology. And, every year, there is a month long short story workshop that accompanies, though it’s completely optional. I LOVE this workshop because
1. I get to read two of my competitor’s stories each week and
2. two of my competitors read my story each week, which means
3. I get TONS OF FEEDBACK during the workshop.
Every week, we focus on a different aspect of storytelling and the goal is that enough feedback will be given so that the story improves AND so does the writer.
You might be wondering how feedback is to be trusted if we’re all competing. Well, the truth is that AT is a supportive community first, cutthroat competition second (just kidding! it’s not really cutthroat). Of those who actively participate in the group, our goal is to help other writers improve. I’ve seen stories from the same people for three years in a row now and this year, I had the privilege of talking up a writer on his improvements because I remember his previous stories and how this year’s is a MARKED improvement.
We WANT to see GREAT stories from everyone, not lead people astray to give us a better chance of making it (well, at least I don’t, and I’ve never seen evidence to the contrary, except one time and that was this year and his membership was, by his own hand, revoked. No, we didn’t kill him). I’d love for every story I see in week 1 to be almost unrecognizable in its improvements by the final week or by submission time. Most of these stories are not polished (though they also should not be first drafts), so there is plenty of room to make them really sparkle.
And, by seeing mistakes that others are making, I can look at my own work and analyze for those mistakes too, so I’m getting four times the benefit every week. It’s awesome!
Because it’s rather intense, not much else gets done during workshop month. It takes a lot of mental energy to tackle two short stories in three days and then spend four days working through suggestions to your own story. I’ve gotten basically nothing else done this month, but as you may be able to tell from above, I don’t exactly mind.
I’m a bit sad that workshop month is already over and it’s back to life as usual. I’d love to workshop all the time (I know, it’s called a critique group) but even writers need a mental break sometime.
So that’s it for this week. I think next week, I’ll look forward to some projects I’m working on and talk a smidge about those.
Until then, keep writing!