200 Proof Storytelling, Weeks 3-4

I’m always busy and over-scheduled, so time always flies by, but since the beginning of February I’ve been extra busy due to the online writing workshop I mentioned in my last post here. I won’t recap what it was all about, so just read the prior post if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

High Desert, Starless Sky

In weeks 1-2 I derived quite a bit from the lectures and used the assignments to write the first two scenes of a quiet but horrific post-apocalypze story which I’m just now finishing up. The first two scenes were the first half of the story, roughly, and I received some good feedback and felt very motivated to work on finishing the story even while I was busy with the next two weeks of lessons, assignments and critiques.

Invisible Mystic and the Alien-in-a-Jar

Speaking of those, for week 3 I started an entirely new story. Due to the nature of the assignment it didn’t seem like a great “fit” for writing the next part of the earlier story, so I started a new story about a traveling freakshow that is unusual even by the standards of traveling freakshows. Again I received very nice feedback and I’m using that momentum to finish up that story this week.

Devotion

The week 4 assignment involved revising, and while most of the other participants in the workshop just revised what they had written earlier in the workshop, I went back to the last story I’d drafted just prior to the workshop. This piece involved a strange religious community and the feedback I received, including that from workshop leader Craig Clevenger, was extremely positive and encouraging. I’ve since polished the story to completion (not too hard since it’s only 1,300 words) and started submitting it to magazines.

By the end of the workshop I could see some other participants were discouraged and ready to give up. Four of the sixteen participants never submitted their fourth assignment, and many of us who did submit didn’t receive critiques from all members of our groups. I actually felt more motivated and energized by the process, despite the fatigue and hard work. Writing is usually such solitary work. It can be easy to find yourself in an endless, lonely feedback loop of “write story, submit story, get story repeatedly rejected.” This was a nice change and a boost to my confidence and skill level. I enjoyed both the challenges that took me out of my comfort zone (and I believe that’s the only way one can grow), and also the positive feedback about my writing.

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