Friday, July 24, 2015

Writing Camp or Writing Work in Iowa

Writing Camp or Writing Work in Iowa by Debra H. Goldstein

Fun – Freedom – Frolic are all things children experience when they attend summer camp.  I recently had these same experiences plus a constant writing high when I spent ten days as a student at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Everyday responsibilities and obligations faded and were forgotten while I took classes in setting, conflict, and characterization in genre.

The courses combined limited lectures, writing assignments, and critical workshopping. What was probably the most surprising thing is that as much as I learned from my three excellent teachers, I can’t even begin to explain how much I benefited from hearing my work and that of my fellow students evaluated by my teachers and classmates. Their critiques were kind, but nothing was sugarcoated.

Considering how writers often are often upset by bad Amazon or Goodreads reviews, one would think constant writing exercises and critiques would be demoralizing, but they weren’t.  Rather, they were invigorating.  The combination of learning, translating new knowledge into writing, and being given the tools to improve our work product was exciting.

During the ten days I was in Iowa (which really is flat), I was thrilled Kings River Life published my short story, Exotic, ( http://kingsriverlife.com/07/04/exotic-a-mystery-story/ ), Bethlehem Writers Roundtable informed me that its September/October 2015 issues will contain my short story, That’s Where I Buried My Wives, and Five Star sent me the first jpeg cover of my new book, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (coming February 2016).  By the time I finished my three workshops, I realized that the goal of learning was accomplished but better yet, I came up with new pieces - a few of which I bet will find homes in the next year.  Not a bad result from going to camp.

8 comments:

  1. Wow, woman, you are a publishing machine! Congrats.
    I attended the Iowa Summer Writers Festival a few years ago. Took a workshop on short stories and another on novels. Enjoyed my experience. Glad you did, too. Best,

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    1. I felt like I was in camp for ten days.....creative, happy, well-paced. Now back in the real world and trying hard to regain a sense of productivity (other things keep getting in the way ... laundry, grocery shopping, lunch with friends without our notebooks open on the table while we eat, etc.). Oh well.......

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  2. Love Iowa Summer Writing Festival! The classes, lectures, the vibe... But what? You were in Iowa and we didn't know it?

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    1. Guess not....I didn't publicize it before I left (the old .. don't tell anyone you're going to be gone because Joel also went out of town for part of my ten days away). Will the two of you be at Bouchercon?

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  3. Debra, your experience sounds most invigorating. I should look into doing this workshop...some summer when I'm not too busy. Oh boy, sure!
    Congratulations on your short stories and your upcoming book from Five Star! Well done, you!!!

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    1. Thank you. Congrats on your new book, too.

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  4. Fantastic all around! Congratulations, Debra!

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    1. Thanks Paula. It was a most interesting experience. Learned a lot and trulyh enjoyed the environment.

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