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Clarion West Online Classes – A Personal Retrospective

In the past month, the Clarion West Writers Workshop offered a number of online classes through their website. I only managed to sign up for one class from the first round, but I was lucky (read – manic) enough to attend more from the second. The experience was absolutely fantastic on several levels, and the ability to directly interact with professional writers was like being plugged into an outlet, and having my battery charged.

The subject matter of the classes varied wildly, from the use of psychological responses and types of interactions in character building, to the relationship between worldbuilding, character, and story. The structure itself was very different from class to class. Some were webinars, with Powerpoint presentations and room for questions. Others were more lecture-based, with participation, exercises, and the like.

Some takeaways:

1. I need interaction with other writers, be it published, or aspiring ones. It is becoming more and more apparent to me that on a sheer motivation level, I require contact with others who are doing or trying to do what I do. This is making me evaluate the potential to find a writing group, even though I am instinctively suspicious of such things. But it really seems like something that will boost both my motivation, and output.

2. I seem to – and this one is hard to phrase tastefully – actually, uhm, know a lot. Not in the sense of “these classes were useless”, in fact the absolute opposite. I took something unique and helpful from each and every one. But more than a few of these things were rephrasing or offering a unique perspective on information I already had.

Which, to be fair, makes sense. I have listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts, and read a massive number of books on the business and craft of writing. With each passing class, I realized that invariably the most helpful aspect was the direct exchange of ideas, and the practical exercises.

There is always more to learn, and I am likely not even done with the beginning of the process. But it does seem that at this point I actually have a surprising amount of raw information inside my head. Which means that further “learning” for me will have a lot more to do with practice and personal exploration, than simply absorbing information.

Fuck… Oh well.

3. Most importantly, I am realizing that this is truly what I want to be doing with my life. Every class, every sit down with a bunch of other faces, all of us staring awkwardly at each other and the person speaking, has been another crystal clear resonance with the awareness that THIS is who I am. Who I need to be, and what I need to become.

I don’t think any practical benefit I could list (and there were specific ones, to be sure, from each class) will measure up to this simple realization, or rather its reinforcement. Quarantine has been hard on all of us, and I have had my unproductive moments, just like everyone else has. However, after these past two weeks, I feel energized and motivated. And not simply to overcome anxiety, depression, and the uncertainty everyone is dealing with, but to know that even when I fail to do it, my path remains unaltered.

I am no less a writer just because I haven’t been published yet, or because I might have unproductive, uninspired, or flat out blocked streaks. I am more of a writer, knowing that after each of those streaks, I will be back at it, writing. Because I can’t imagine not doing it.

P.S. As for the picture of Jaime protecting my work area as the majestic panther god that he is – you are welcome.

Published inThoughts on the Writer

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