Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pre-Professional Fiction Writers Workshop -- An Overview

Hello, everyone.

Welcome to the PPFWW.

This is a new project I'm putting together for a group of writers here on campus who are getting ready to make the jump from student writer to published writer.

This is an area that I've been doing a LOT of research on lately, and it's my hope that by sharing this research with others and opening it up to discussion, we'll all be able to learn.

It occurred to me while I was working on the outline for this week (and the next few weeks overall) that there's little reason for me to keep all this information to myself. As a result, you get this series of blog posts. Basically, they're going to be the reading packets that I send out to the group each week, provided for your perusal. Lots of good links in here, so hopefully you all can learn something along with us.

If I think there's a particularly useful or exciting discussion at the group's weekly meeting, I might share some insights I gained from it, but otherwise you're going to have provide the discussion for yourselves.

And, with that introduction out of the way, check out the workshop overview after the jump.

This first week, I want us to establish three concepts in our mind that will be key to our discussions throughout the rest of the semester:

1. Every writer is different.
2. You can make a living writing fiction.
3. This is a business; we need to adjust our attitudes.

(Is that third one a cop-out? Are there technically two there? Oh, well. Whatever.)

We'll move into more and more specific topics once we've covered these three, core ideas. We might get through them all on Monday, we might not get through them until midterm. I'm flexible and willing to spend as much time as we feel is necessary.

Each week, I'll send out an email with a collection of readings that I think raise worthy points on various angles of the discussion we'll be having (many of them are posts that have challenged me to reassess my attitudes and ideas about the business in the past year or so. Hopefully they'll be half as effective for you. At the very least, we'll get a conversation going.) Most of these will be blog posts from long-term, full-time professional fiction writers. I don't know about you, but I'd like to have a job doing this thirty or forty years down the road, so I feel like it's best to listen to and learn from those who have experience doing just that.

Along the way, if any of you find an interesting article or blog post that you think would benefit the group, or that you simply want to start a conversation about, send it my way and I'll pass it along.

Similarly, if you ever have any questions about aspects of this business that we haven't had a chance to discuss in the group yet, or if you want more information on a topic that we discussed, please ask me because I probably have another dozen sources of information on it than what I'm sharing with you here. (Really, what I'll be sending you is just the tip of the iceberg.)

Finally, while this is not a workshop on craft, I do want us to recognize the importance of craft and the necessity of continuing to improve it. Again, this is a business (I know, I know, we haven't talked about that yet). So, if any of you come across a particularly effective article or insight on the subject of craft, send it to me and I'll pass it to the group, or even bring it to the meetings if you want to have a brief discussion about it. (Also, it goes without saying, if you have a question about a particular aspect of craft, I'm sure the many knowledgeable writers we'll have in attendance will have resources for you as well, so go ahead and ask.)

That's all I have, as far as an introduction to the course goes. To close, I have our meeting time/information as well as a preliminary list of topics we'll be covering (in tentative order).

Week 2:     4. Outlook: What kind of writer do you want to be? What are your dreams and goals and why does that matter?
                  5. Being a professional (the above will directly influence how you approach this).
Week 3:     6. Getting the work done (i.e. scheduling, writing speed, etc.)
                  7. Knowing when to stop (to revise or not to revise, writing to editorial constraint, writing for an audience, etc.)
Week 4:     8. Being a professional, part two (more on treating your writing as a business).
                  9. The basics of the industry: A brief overview on publishing and why you need to know about it.
Week 5:     10. Potpourri: Continuing the discussions from above (publishing myths, writing myths, more about money, agents, etc.)
Week 6:     11. A new revolution: the changing world of publishing.
                  12. Further questions, concerns, and topics from you guys. (NOTE: The entire schedule is flexible. I have a handful of "necessary" topics for us to talk about, but we can easily adjust things to fit what you all want to talk about.)
Week 7:     13. A few crazy ideas: don't be afraid to experiment. (TENTATIVE)
                  14. Always be moving forward; never look back. (TENTATIVE)

In other words, once we pass topic 9 or so, my intentions for this group get a big fuzzy. But there's plenty to talk about with just the top five topics, and I'm sure we'll be able to have a beneficial conversation regardless of where we meander over the next few weeks.

-joshua kehe

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