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Why Workshops?

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

"The more you read, the more you will write. The better the stuff you read, the better the stuff you will write." -ANNIE DILLARD

I'm a horrible saleswoman. Just ask my husband. Years ago, we were living in the garden apartment of a brownstone in Brooklyn where people hosted stoop sales every weekend. Eager to get in on the action, I displayed the flotsam from our apartment and sat on my stoop, ready to make a deal. Except I was horrible at it. Someone would offer me $5 for an old vase, and I'd tell them they could have it for $2, or $1. Or, you know what, just take it. It's free.

What does this all have to do with the Dillard quote about? Don't worry, I'll get there, but first another quote. Aside from a year in publishing, I've worked in education and nonprofit my whole life. I've never been concerned with making a profit. And now, here I am selling something I believe in. I ask myself, how do I quantify what a workshop can do for a writer, and I'm reminded of what Stephen King talks about in his memoir, On Writing. "Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground ... Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. Writers should be like archaeologists, excavating for as much of the story as they can find." This is how I often see myself as a workshop leader, like a guide driving the archeologist around, pointing out some good places to dig, providing the right tools. But it's the archeologist who must follow her intuition to decide exactly where she'll dig, where she'll begin.