The workshop experience…
Writing is a lonely experience, even within a group of writers responding to a prompt. The next step after creating a message is to send it out into the world. Smoke signals rise. In our writers’ workshops, we delve deep into the reader experience. Working with a fellowship of other dedicated writers is far superior to asking your friends or relatives to read your latest work. You can expect constructive criticism, positive encouragement, and worthwhile suggestions in a Green Mountain Writers Workshop. For several years, I have been leading a Friday Morning Open-Genre writers’ workshop. Each week, we meet to review work submitted by 2-3 of the participants. The writer is placed in a virtual box, while the rest of the participants discuss their work as if the writer is not present, MFA style. There are some terrific works that evolve through constructive feedback.
In January, 2021, I launched this writers’ community with the intention of providing a safe web space where members can share their work in a secure folder, discuss the work privately on Zoom, and share comments with each other before and after the sessions in a members-only Discussion Board. I wanted some walls to protect the shared work and to restrict access to the discussion board to participating workshop members only. On the other side of the wall, I wanted to launch a public, online, literary review where members could publish their work.
About the Green Mountain Writers Review…
It has long been my intention to launch a populist writers’ review containing works derived and developed within our workshops. There are more than enough elite literary reviews. I wanted to provide an alternative, a forum where any of the participating members can decide when they are ready to publish their work and interact with their readers. There is no judgmental review process other than that of the individual writers themselves. I believe we exist to empower each other.
On August 23, 2021 we published the premiere issue of the Green Mountain Writers Literary Review: The Tarot, Issue #1.
…on my intentions, motives, and views on creating a community of writers.
Writing is now a daily habit of mine, like coffee, reading, eating, and exercise. But, it wasn’t always the way I started each day. I was only a daily writer when I did it for a living as a photo-journalist back in the ‘80s. I have a stack of spiral binders, sketch books, and manila folders full of random bursts of personal journaling. I read Stephen King’s On Writing and felt shame to think I could never measure up to his standards regarding the time he spent writing each day. Then, I read From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler. In Chapter Two, he talks about getting into the zone.
“…after you wake up, don’t read the newspaper, don’t watch CNN; if you have to pee don’t pick up the back issue of The New Yorker in the basket nearby. You go to your fiction writing without letting any conceptual language into your head.” Later in the chapter, he describes a process he calls dreamstorming. “It’s a funny state. It’s not as if you’re falling asleep at your computer, but neither are you brainstorming. You’re dreamstorming, inviting the images of moment-to-moment experience through your unconscious. It’s very much like an intensive daydream, but a daydream that you are and are not controlling. You let it go, but it’s coming through language that you’re putting on a screen, so there is some intervention on your part, and yet the essence of it—that rainy street and that dog barking and the lamplight—are nothing you’re going after consciously. The state of communion with your unconscious—the zone I’m trying to describe—is absolutely essential, absolutely essential to writing well in this art form.”
I tried Butler’s suggestion one morning. Good things came from it. I did it the next day, and the next. Before I knew it, a habit had formed. This is now the way I start every day. It’s not a discipline as Stephen King suggests. It’s a pleasure that I claim for myself each day, a sense of personal autonomy. This is my time and I will; not relinquish it to appointments or other obligations. I owe a few hours each and every day to myself, first and foremost, and you do too.