The road to mastery of any art is long, and the further down the road you go, the more you realize there is learn. What seemed like a single path when you started out becomes a mesh of paths through a tangled undergrowth. Some double back upon each other while others are dead ends. You can follow a path for years only to realize it goes nowhere, or you might stumble upon the most amazing vistas you’ve ever seen just by taking a quick side jaunt. Writing, like all creative activities, is about exploration.
For my own quest in the field of literature, I took a chance and applied for this year’s Regional Anthropomorphic Writers Retreat, or RAWR for short. I’m still delighted they accepted me. I’ve been at this for a while, and while the landscape seems familiar now, I know I have more to learn. Thus the last Friday of May found me on an airplane flying to California to go forth and learn from two of the fandom’s most talented writers with five other writers in a house up in the mountains. For five days I would be immersed in an intensive the event coordinator, Alkani, liked to call the crucible. Into these walls would go six participants with our stories clutch in our paws, and out would come something different.
First, I must say that our instructors Kyell Gold and Ryan Campbell are amazing. Second, the Year 2 class is also amazing. We had a good group and while I knew two of them, the other three I met at the workshop. They’re talented, they’re sharp, and as a group , we consumed a lot of coffee, tea, and alcohol. The second year class is:
My fellow attendees have a lot of talent, and we worked hard during the workshop. Each of us brought a story to the workshop and had to write a second story while there. We also critiqued each other’s work while there, which came out to two critiques when you were getting feedback, or three when you weren’t up. Also, these weren’t short critiques but long critique sessions that sometimes lasted up to an hour per story. The instructors also gave us a daily lecture and provided one-on-one coaching to each of us.
This experience, working closely under pressure with other writers, is transformative. I learned a lot from the instructors and could immediately apply that knowledge in my own writing and the critiquing I was doing. An event like this also lets you test your own limits. It’s stressful, and the hours were long, but the experience was well worth it. Everyone in the Year 2 class came out of this feeling the effort they’ve put in has paid off.
So if you are thinking of applying for the Year 3 class of RAWR, of have the option to attend a different type of writing workshop, do it! Also, don’t just take my word for it, go read Buni’s review of the workshop. Going forward, I feel the workshop will really help my writing. I can’t thank my fellow attendees, the instructors, or the event coordinator enough for all the hard work they put into making this experience rock.