Sit Down, Shut Up, and Write! Message Board Success Stories › The O. Henry Short Story Master Class 2010

The O. Henry Short Story Master Class 2010

Jeff Q.
user 10257438
Cedar Park, TX
Post #: 19
I recently took part in the The O. Henry Short Story Master Class workshop sponsored by the City Of Austin and O. Henry Museum. The workshop was led by author Mary Helen Specht. Novelist Phillip Meyer (author of "American Rust" and one of the New Yorker's "20 Under 40" fiction writers to watch), was enlisted to read all the finalized stories and single one out. There were many fine stories being written in that class, but my story (still in final edits, but at this moment still called "Sweet Water") was chosen by Mr. Meyer.

He wrote: "A compelling story with a strong emotional core about two boys on a weekend trip with their estranged father. The story is rich, but also told with enormous restraint. It is full of the sort of details a lesser writer would expound upon, but Questad simply gives us a brief glimpse and moves on. Themes of death, coming of age, troubled adult relationships, the unfairness of the world--all of these are touched upon but never insisted upon. As in real life they simply form a backdrop for the characters, who come across as real people."

Too kind.

In addition, an except from the story draft (I am editing this weekend) will be published by the City of Austin and I believe Mr. Meyer is going to mention the story in his 10/17 panel session at the Texas Book Festival.

I really never regarded this as a competition. But we all need to find our ways to keep our working energy high, and receiving these accolades is very motivating. The best thing about the whole experience was working with other writers and seeing how their stories came together. In fact, one other person who was in the session with me is someone who sits with this group from time to time, and her story was very fine and full of ideas and possibilities still on my mind. All the writers I worked alongside were very helpful in evolving my story, and I learned something from every single one of them as we picked their manuscripts apart. I would have been happy to see any one of them be chosen.

I can say I believe working with other writers and getting feedback on your work is an indispensable part of this. Working with others, as we all know from sitting with this group, energizes and disciplines you. Deadlines will make you move your fingers. Feedback, even negative (and I got some), feels like a puzzle to solve and it revs your engines and makes you want to fight the dragon.

Suzanne launched this thread in the forums after hearing of my news so we could all share our publications and acknowledgements. And I'm happy to be the guinea pig who launches the new section by posting. But I know others in this group have some finished work, publications and awards they can post. Don't let me be the only one blowing his own horn out here.

And keep on truckin' (writing)

Jeff Q.
Suzanne L.
user 10854971
Group Organizer
Austin, TX
Post #: 18
Thank you for sharing this, Jeff. I have wanted to take this workshop and will make an effort to take it next time it is available.

Hopefully you will let us read your short story once final edits are completed.

Tay T.
user 8837417
Austin, TX
Post #: 4
Very cool. Thanks for sharing.
user 4965682
Austin, TX
Post #: 30
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