The dos and dont's of workshop etiquette

A guest post by Laurie Steed

Writers’ workshops are the worst place on Earth.

For the uninitiated, said workshops exist for people to come together and critique each other’s work. Critiquing, of course, is the process of having your story dismissed, categorised and assaulted by a room full of strangers. In other words, it’s like being called up on stage and having your pants pulled down in front of an audience.

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Start Writing Fiction is a free online course offered by The Open University. The eight-week program focuses on a skill which is central to the writing of all stories and novels – creating characters.

Participants will hear from a number of successful authors, including Michele Roberts, Alex Garland, and Louis de Bernieres, as they talk about how they started writing. The rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal will also be explored.

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Literary magazine Kenyon Review is inviting applications for a two-year post-graduate residential fellowship at Kenyon College, located in Gambier, Ohio.

The fellowship program commenced In 2012. It was as inspired by the great tradition of Kenyon Review literary fellowships awarded in the 1950s to writers such as Flannery O’Connor and W.S. Merwin in their formative years. The fellowship aims to provide qualified individuals with time to develop as writers, teachers, and editors. The fellowship provides an annual US$35,150 stipend, plus health benefits.

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A guest post by Rachele Salvini

The first time I watched my own fiction writing coming out of a printer, I could not believe it. The printer belonged to the library of a well-known liberal arts college in New York, and it was weird for me to even be there. I was an Italian girl alone in the United States, and I was about to show that same writing to a bunch of students who would then give me feedback. All this, of course, would take place in English.

Maybe this does not sound like a big deal. That is how every creative writing workshop works and, in the end, the feedback I got was not bad at all. I can remember the story I read and most of what was said by my classmates. I went home happy, but my initial worries were absolutely legitimate. I had been reading books in English for a long time and I was pursuing a degree in English language and literature, but I had always written in Italian. Writing in another language was a completely new challenge.

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Starting in May, Iowa’s acclaimed International Writing Program is offering two new free online courses. Both will explore writing about identities, communities, and social issues.

The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa is a “unique conduit for the world’s literatures, connecting well-established writers from around the globe”,  Its principal program is its Fall Residency; since 1967 over fourteen hundred writers from more than 150 countries have participated.

In 2014 the International Writing Program offered its first MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These courses, funded by the University of Iowa and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, welcome all participants; no application is required and there is no charge for enrollment. In its first year alone, 15,789 readers and writers from around the world participated in these online courses.

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