Writing Workshops, Followed By The Writing Group: People can attend either one or both.
Workshops: Different skills and topics related to writing, and exercises that develop different aspects of people’s writing and expand their repertoire. Topics include: creating real characters, what makes a really good story, how to read your own work at public readings, how to get your writing to flow naturally, and using rhythm in your writing.
What The Group Afterward Can Offer: Provides a place where writers can receive support to continue writing. We are open to all ages, all styles of writing, and all levels of experience. Provides a place where writers can read even longer works, works that are not necessarily meant for performance, and they can receive feedback from other writers.
What We Do: We meet weekly for an hour and a half at a time; we each try to bring material to workshop for each meeting; we do not need to have copies of our material for everyone in the group for every meeting, particularly if expenses are an issue, but it is helpful if we can -- maybe just as photocopies instead of printed material; we follow a general process of trying to understand a piece and its unique goals, then pointing out the strengths of a piece, and then finally looking for ways that a piece can grow and become even better. We do not necessarily reach a consensus on any of these points, but represent diverse feedback from a variety of readers.
How We Do It: Anyone who writes is welcome, but you must love to write in order to join. We listen to everyone’s work as literature, regardless of how we feel about the topic. We listen to everyone’s feedback with equal respect. Assignments only exist to get your juices flowing and to help you generate more work. If you have a project you're working on or you make up your own assignment or you are very busy that week and simply unable to complete an assignment, that's fine, because assignments are only given (at the end of each meeting) as optional exercises. Writers choose their own themes and topics (and that is even true within the assignments.) It is important to give feedback in a manner that encourages writers to continue writing. It is important to listen to feedback in the spirit of knowing that members of the group are simply trying to help and may, in some cases, simply not understand your goals for a particular piece. We enjoy writing. If you think writing is excruciating work and are forcing yourself to write for some external reason, we are the wrong group for you. We represent diversity and our common thread is that we love to write. The responsibility to discern where our own material can and should be read or published lies with each individual writer. We strive to let each writer produce open, free, uncensored material and in this spirit, we set aside political, religious, ethnic, and regional differences and enjoy that other writers in the group will do the same for us and our material. This extends even to genre-based biases such as judging whether a rant or song lyrics or a sci fi story or even an important letter qualifies as worthy of our attention; we treat all genres of writing as equal.
My Background: I have a B.A. in Creative Writing from Beloit College, which I attended on a writing scholarship and where I studied under Clint McCown, who later became a Pulitzer nominee, and I won their Lois Mackey Prize for my short stories, which is an annual prize for one senior in the Creative Writing Dept. to receive a thousand bucks and have a great writer fly in to meet them. (Mine was National Book Award Winner Bob Shacochis.) I was first published at age fourteen, writing modern dance reviews in a N.Y. newspaper, have written for the theatre (but I mostly write short stories), and have been very active with Millvale Writers' Group in Pittsburgh over the past few years. I have also taught Creative Writing at Phoenix House in New Bern, N.C. -- as a volunteer part of their rehabilitation program -- and have taught a few workshops about how to utilize theatre characterization techniques in creating characters for literature (for Millvale Wiriters' Group.) I started writing at age four -- when the T.V. show Zoom made an open call for childrens' poetry. (Unfortunately, that was before I knew about postage stamps, so a lot of my early work was put into envelopes that said "To Zoom From Kim" on them.) I am currently working on a collection called Five Star Obstacle Course.