Be A Better Writer (Workshops, Pt. 2)

I’m sitting in a dorm room in New Hampshire as I write this. I’ve been out of college for nearly twenty years, but here I am, back in a dorm. Why?

I wrote last week about some of the many writing workshops out there to help genre writers get better at their craft through close interactions with top professionals of the field. (I left out many, not least among them Orson Scott Card’s “Uncle Orson’s Writing Class & Literary Boot Camp”).

I went on at some length at the end of that post about Odyssey Writing Workshop, the 6-week course run by author/editor Jeanne Cavelos.

This year, I applied to Odyssey (Had to submit a short story as an audition piece, and had to write a brief essay on what I write about, where I think I need improvement, etc), and I am thrilled to say that I was accepted.

Let me just write that out one more time, and revel in it. I want to savor the feeling of my fingers striking these particular keys in this particular order.

I was accepted into the Odyssey Writing Workshop

I drove up from Shean HQ in the suburban wilds of Long Island to NH today, and the course starts tomorrow. So for the next 6 weeks, I’ll be nose deep in genre analysis, feverish speed-demon writing, and mining the brains of other authors for what makes them tick advice.  And I will emerge out the other side either a desiccated husk or an all powerful master of the craft.  Or something like that.

Now, by no means am I saying that you need to go to one of these workshops to become a better writer. In fact, Neil Gaiman himself got into a bit of a flap several months back for a poorly worded tweet that seemed to suggest just that. (If you have no idea who Neil Gaiman is, then why are you reading my puny scribblings? Go read his masterful works. Seriously, like now.)

No, the unrelenting majority of amazing authors have never had the benefit of a course like this. But there is no denying that attending (and taking advantage of the opportunity by working really, seriously, fucking hard) gives you a huge leg up in leveling up your skills.

I plan on working really seriously fucking hard over the next 6 weeks, and milking this course and all its instructors for every scrap of insight and advice I can squeeze out of it and them.

This is going to be one helluva roller coaster. Late nights, cram sessions, mind draining study habits, non-stop reading, and above all, writing at a breakneck pace I don’t know if I can manage. Seriously, I need to write 5 new 5,000 word short stories from scratch over the next 5 weeks. It usually takes me at minimum twice, if not 4 times, that long to get a rough draft of a story I’m moderately willing to have my name on.

Hopefully, one of the things we’ll learn early on is how to get the ideas down on the page rapidly, because otherwise, I’m sunk.

Wish me luck.

Here I Go.



About Matthew Shean

Matthew Shean is the author of several forthcoming novels and myriad short stories. He received his Ph.D. from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York, NY, and spent 20 years as a research scientist throughout the northeastern United States. He now lives in Long Island (against his will), with his loving family and disdainful cats.
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4 Responses to Be A Better Writer (Workshops, Pt. 2)

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