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Writers Workshops & the Work of Making Things

Writers Workshops & the Work of Making Things

Writers Workshops & the Work of Making Things

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Book Details:

Publisher:Addison Wesley
Pages:288 pages
Size:2.11 MB
License:Pending review


In November 1999, Paul Becker of Addison-Wesley approached me at a conference in Denver and told me I was the perfect person to write a book on the writers' workshop. I thought he was nuts. He thought I was nuts back. We were both right. He was thinking of a book only for the software world—a primer on the writers' workshop as I had introduced it there. I was thinking of a book for both software people and "real" writers. I was sure there were plenty of books about the writers' workshop: There are books about every aspect of writing except maybe how to sharpen pencils. But not so—I couldn't find much that talked about the writers' workshop and how it worked.

I told him to forget it anyway.

He emailed me a few times.

Forget it.

After the third or fourth email I was starting to believe it might be fun since I had been thinking about how to address both audiences at once. I finally agreed.

But I missed all his deadlines, and the draft I sent him in July of 2001 was OK, but minimal. We had agreed on a short book, but I had sent him a chapbook.Then I asked the two writing communities I am in—the alumni of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers and the design patterns community— to tell me what they knew about the writers' workshop, and I was hit by a tsunami of stories, advice, and ideas. Many of them were so good that I left them mostly in their words. It's part of the writers' tradition of stealing (but I did ask if it was OK).

Writing a book on writers' workshop brings one dangerously close to the possibil-ity of writing on writing and creativity in general. There are already many books on those two topics. I aman expert in neither, certainly not as measured by edu-cation and research. I am a practitioner of both, though, and I've approached this book from the outlook of a simple laborer in those areas. There are theories of learning, ideas developed by composition theorists—I could have looked into how theories of creativity and selfhood play into the workshop, or how to apply stage-development theory and philosophy to the problem of how to help a writer become autonomous. I could have delved more deeply into cultural, racial, and gender issues in the workshop. These would be good things to do, but they are not the good things I am able to do well.



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