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Russell’s Writing Workshop

December 14, 2015



Tomorrow evening a dozen of us meet at Russell Rowland’s for the last session this semester.  Semester?  Well, we are not enrolled in any college.  Ours is a practical course that we wrest good from, each in their own way.

What have I gotten from Russ’s workshop?  I mean, it cost a couple hundred dollars!  Oh, we all wrote pieces that we exchanged and criticized for two hours each week.  On Mondays.  Lots of reading.  Lots of criticism.

Russ had asked us to buy the novelist Stephen King’s guide to writing.  I just reread how King said that a writer should be an avid reader.  Even during meals.  Don’t worry about offending polite company because if you are a writer, he said, you will soon no longer be welcome.  Writers, he said, must be truthful, and so they ruin their chances with the polite.

If that is true, then I can think of three or four quanta over which I have leapt these past weeks.  I’m talking breakthrough moments.  Each of those times I had written something that I was almost too embarrassed to share.

Two of my stories were about fictional sexual experiences of my late Uncle Bud.  I mean, I have no idea what experiences he had, if any.  Obviously I had to come up with something.  When I wrote a description of him removing the underwear of his girlfriend I felt such shame at subjecting my fellow writers to those details that I skipped the session when I would have had to face discussion.  (True, it had been P’s birthday, but we had already celebrated the day before.)  I was too cowardly to face my fellows.  Of course, when I returned to the group the following week I got the derision I had earned, but it was not so bad, after all.  In fact, writing about pulling down panties became sort of a running joke.

I wrote two pieces about my struggle with mental illness in my blog.  In each case I had to fight an almost irresistible urge later to delete the posts.  But I left them up.  Did I get negative responses?  Of course I did.  Positive too.

The real good, in my view, is that I took risks and I feel tougher for it.  I assume that the most polite people are now keeping me at a distance, perhaps, but a different set of slightly less polite people seem to embrace my writing.

That is what I’ve gained from Russell Rowland’s workshop.

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One Comment
  1. yes, discussion comes after the last straw broke

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