Gotham writers, revising, and a few shout outs to my friends’ blogs!

For any of my New York City friends interested in writing I recommend the Gotham Writers workshops. I took fiction one for ten weeks in fall, and I took the same class again this winter with a different teacher. Before these classes I had not written fiction in awhile, since my failed novel attempt a few winters ago. I wrote consistently in my blog, but not fiction. Now near the end of my second class from Gotham I have five short stories to work with. I’d like to thank my friend and colleague Vijay (his blog is linked to my blogroll) that recommended Gotham Writers to me.

All of my family and a few friends tell me that my fiction has improved from these classes. I think talking about writing with an instructor for three hours on Sundays does inspire me to write. I’m reading more short stories than ever, at least since I was in undergrad, and I think I know more how fiction works. Just learning about and using the simple story line structure helps. Before I simply wrote how I thought a story should be, and now I’m writing within the general way stories should work.

In both classes the teachers said the topics and the choice of what to write about is up to the individual writers. But I like that in my recent stories the characters do not resemble myself and it is not a fictionalized memoir like I did a lot when I first started writing. My blogging and opinion pieces I enjoy writing and I’m proud of that writing. From one of my classmate’s blog, Brigette’s, (also in my blog roll) from last semester, I think blogging has a lot of possibilities. She’s doing a lot of neat things with her blog and is gaining a following. For me I think creating a story and thinking of the best way to put it down seems like a different craft than non-fiction blog writing. I’m enjoying that I’m creating stories from scratch, I feel artistic, and I hope to continue to write fiction consistently from now on.

For my current class I submitted three stories that were work shopped. The teacher suggested since everyone got at least three stories in and there is space that I should do a revision. To me this is a test. In the past a revision for me would be a scan for typos and minor alterations to a sentence here and there. From last semester my classmate Brinda (her blog is also on my blog roll) did a revision of her story that did not read like the first one. The first one was very good, but kind of dense, and the second one was not as dense but good and clear writing, and the scenes were in a different order.  So she basically rewrote the whole thing based on the suggestions from the workshop. I realized or learned that that is what a revision can be, a whole rewrite. Maybe five rewrites are in order before the best one is created.

So I’m going to do what my friend did last semester and take one of my stories and rewrite it from scratch.  I’ll read the original a few times, look at the class comments, and then put the drafts in a drawer. I already know I want to take out one scene and start it with a new scene. But I also want to add more description to this story that is heavy with dialogue. From my work shopped pieces I realize that stories have different possibilities and can go in different directions. As a writer you need to find the correct order of events for your story, and have an ending that most readers would like. I’m hoping now that I know that the whole story can simply be rewriting I hope I can revise these things better, and learn to analyze better my own work, and improve my stories. So I have five stories to rewrite, change, and revise until I feel I can submit them for publication. None of them are publishable as is, so I’m forced to rewrite and revise. But my goal very much is send all five out.

I am going to spend time writing and revising fiction. For my blog I want to write opinion or review pieces about things that people would want to read about. This blog entry as an example might have been too self absorbed for some people to read.  Sometimes I have a hard time thinking of topics to blog about. So my goal is to blog once a week. And I’m going to try to make it regular. Like every Tuesday or Wednesday night I would post a blog. Fiction writing takes time, and that is the direction I’m going, so from now on I’ll post a blog entry once a week.

4 thoughts on “Gotham writers, revising, and a few shout outs to my friends’ blogs!

  1. Matt,
    First of all thanks for mentioning me and my blog. I’m a newbie at this and your encouragement and kind comments about my own work is very much appreciated. A blogger recently “reblogged” one of my posts so I take that as a great compliment. I think it’s a give and take — I explore other writers’ blog posts and take the time to encourage/comment and everyone benefits. Writing can be a “lonely” task and it’s wonderful to receive kind words from others.

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve shared here. I know I gained a much better understanding of the craft of fiction writing after taking a glass at Gotham Writer’s Group. I have Gotham, along with your blog, Brinda’s and Chika’s (our fellow writers and some of whom comprise our monthly writers’ group) on my blogroll and I plan on taking another course from Gotham myself. I applaud you for going straight from one 10-week class right into another one. From experience, I know what a commitment it is and it forces one to hone their craft and take valuable insight from fellow writers. I feel lucky to have met those from our class that are gifted and share the same passion for writing. My blog, as you know is predominately for sharing those types of “writerly” topics, hopefully giving (and receiving) advice about both fiction and non-fiction writing. I think fiction is more difficult and I’ve done alot of non-fiction, so until I’m more sure of myself as a fiction writer, I’m not posting as much fiction on my blog. But, I’ve sent submitted work and that’s a good start.

    I think your writing as improved immensely since our first class. You were always a good writer with great ideas, but I’ve seen how you’ve been applying techniques to your present writing and it just keeps getting better and better.

    Thanks for this insightful post and for taking the time to comment/encourage your fellow bloggers/writers/friends.

  2. Thanks so much Brigette,
    I feel fortunate too that we created a writing group from the fall Gotham class. I think it’s only been a few months, but I think our group is solid and will have lasting power.
    I mentioned your blog because I’m impressed that since you’re concetrating on writing and making it regularly, you’re getting a following already. For me I think i need a focus for the blog, and I’m happy to set the goal of once a week, to have good things to write about.
    See you sunday, and for next months group I’ll turn in a revision!
    Take care,

  3. Matt — thanks for the shout out – like we discussed – I know it seemed surprising and intimidating to rewrite a whole story. While its not my favorite thing to do obviously; it is not that hard – like you said – maybe five such rewrites are in order before the story is right. My take is this whole writing deal is about perseverance – one just has to be positive and keep going. Hopefully enjoy the process as well. Like you both (Brigitte and you) have said so well, I feel fortunate about our group and truly appreciate all the feedback and the friendship! Good luck – : )

  4. Thanks Brinda. I’m looking forward to reading another revision of your for sundays class.

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