Deb: Workshop Talk

Our first 49 Writers Workshop, Finding Your Voice, ended Saturday.  Andromeda and I have both taught multiple workshops, but this was our first collaborative effort.  As with this blog, we found it a touchstone that challenged our thinking, stretched our skills, and provoked fun interactions. 

But instructors alone do not a workshop make.  The quality of a workshop correlates with the quality of the participants.  Ours were wonderfully engaged, a great group that we would have loved getting to know over weeks instead of just weekends.  At the suggestion of one participant, we created a ning network so they can stay in touch, a feature we’ll add to upcoming workshops.  The next, we hope, will happen in late April/early May.  The topic:  Jumpstart Your Writing.    Another potential development later this year:  a 49 Writers workshop/retreat in a secluded spot across Kachemak Bay from Homer.  Stay tuned for updates.

The ultimate affirmation for Finding Your Voice:  in anonymous evaluations, 100 percent of our workshop participants said they’d recommend the workshop to others.  “Price was incredible; time passed quickly. I appreciated the fast pacing, obvious detailed preparation, as well as the easy atmosphere,” wrote one.  Another noted that she’d brought 35 poems to a finished state in the week between workshop sessions.  That says more about her than it does about us, but it’s nice to know the workshop had a catalytic effect.

Which brings me to today’s question:  What makes for a great workshop experience?  We’d love your input.

4 thoughts on “Deb: Workshop Talk”

  1. Paula Vogel, the playwright, gave a workshop in Juneau around 1989, at Perseverance theatre on Douglas Island.

    Like the beginning of a party where everyone arrives at once, Paula the host did that beautiful thing of gathering the good energy in the air, making everyone feel at home by her light and congenial conversation and her command of the direction we were all headed in.

    The workshop continued more as a house party than a class, in the best sense of the thing.

    Paula asked us to shout out the title of a favorite piece of writing. It was free-form. People shouted. We recognized titles. Paula said, “Something’s missing, something’s missing.” We all nodded when she said that. I said, “Secret Sharer.” Everybody said, “Yes!”

    What was that? How is it that we all felt the absence of Secret Sharer and the satisfaction once it had been said out loud? Some secret about art and heart was voiced. It was something about Paula’s roaming energy and a palpable love she had for art. She electrified that room and time vanished. We were in the zone.

    Something happened there. I don’t know what, or how to recreate it, but that’s what Paula Vogel did one night in a bare black room of Perseverance Theatre; something bloomed.

  2. I was out of town when you did this workshop, but I am very interested in it. Is there any way I could receive any of the information and/or exercises you did at the workshop?

  3. The handouts require some context to be truly useful, but we hope to offer the voice workshop again, so will look forward to seeing you then, Stephanie.

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