Thursday, December 18, 2008

Writing Workshop Update

At a date to be announced, in early February I will be hosting a Short Fiction Writer's Workshop for persons seriously interested in developing the craft of writing short stories. My qualification to facilitate/teach this course does not come out any particular stellar record of academic achievement so my meagre literary prizes, poor publication record, and scant critical acclaim will have to suffice. In this two-bit "ascendancy of mediocrity" society in which we live, those should be more than enough, plus my heart is in the right place.

It should last about five days, inclusive of a weekend and will most likely include a holiday to cater for the work schedule of those interested since I would prefer it to be residential. Depending on the funding I can raise, there should only be a nominal fee for participation.

The workshop has a tenuous link to the Writing Competition hosted by my friend Charmaine Valere of the Signifyin' Guyana blog in that I have a slight point to make about the benefits of writers' workshops - Charmaine has put up a lot of money to foster the reward/recognition aspect of local writing while the workshop is focused on the developmental. Hopefully someone who would have passed through my workshop will take the top prize of US $500 Charmaine has put up. You can find out more about the writing competition at

Regarding the workshop, the selected participants, a rough maximum of ten, again dependent on funding, will be required to spend a number of days in an intense residential workshop environment developing the short stories they would have submitted to be considered for selection.

Selection of the short list at the very least will be based solely upon my estimation of literary value in the submissions and the potential for development the writer has; there is no restriction on submission except it must be your own work and submitted in English, while eligibility is dependent on residency in Guyana, at least for two years prior to Februart 2009 - you can be from Turkmenistan for all I care. I am fairly well read enough to recognise plagiarism when I see it, even from some supposedly obscure sources so please don't try that shit.

There is no financial incentive for participation except for prizes for the best short story produced during the workshop and the most improved writer, since this is a developmental effort.

You will be expected, if selected, to familiarise yourself with a number of workshop texts which will be sent to you beforehand. This will include basic material on the elements of the short story which you can research yourself, as well as work from a number of writers of short fiction. These include Ernest Hemingway, Jorge Luis Borges, David Foster Wallace, Stephen Crane, Anton Chekov, Guy de Maupassant, Robert Antoni, Kei Miller, Kate Chopin, V.S. Naipaul, Vladimir Nabokov and Ruel Johnson.

Recommended reading includes Penguin and other anthologies of short fiction; Ficciones/The Garden of Forking Paths/The Maker by Jorge Luis Borges; David Foster Wallace stories, several of which can be found online; the New Yorker magazine short fiction section; the Paris Review online short fiction section; Fictions - Volume 1, and Ariadne & Other Stories, both written by yours truly.

Don't expect me to teach you to write but because I am not qualified to do so. My role will be to:

1) Provide the space in which the participants will work on their writing
2) Provide rough guidelines to creating a good short story
3) Moderate discussion sessions, both educational and critical

By the end of the workshop, you will be expected to have improved the short story you would have submitted and at least begun a new one during the workshop; you would also have had developed some sense of the context out of which you're writing, geographically, socially, culturally and otherwise. You would have had a crash exploration of themes and terms like post-modernism, post-colonialism, traditionalism, realism, mythopeia, fabulation et cetera.

I will be using Facebook, my blog, and other avenues to promote this effort and if you are selected, I look forward to working with you.

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