I’m working this winter with Peter Markus in his online workshop. I had once vowed to never take another workshop again in my life–I’ve done my time in workshops and writing groups and while they’ve been really helpful and have saved me an immense amount of time, I generally feel that I know what I want in my writing without the group feedback. But Markus is such an inventive writer and when the opportunity to work with him arrived, I took the plunge. Why now? There are a lot of reasons for this. Mostly I struggle with the idea of being a writer at all. It’s not a question of talent or skill; I don’t think it’s being egotistic or overconfident to state that I’m a talented writer. One would hope that I have some talent, being that I teach writing and publish short fiction. Talent is overrated anyway. The less talented writer that works hard is going to get to the same place that a talented writer get to, eventually. Of course, there must be some core impulse that guides either writer. I often think that the only difference between the talented writer and any other writer is the talented writer’s willingness to follow his or her imagination as far as it needs to go. All of this is really neither here nor there. Maybe I’m just lost as a writer. I’ve been plugging along for nearly twenty years at this with little to show for my efforts beside hundreds of drafts and a job that allows me to talk about writing. There are many days that I don’t even think of myself as a writer–or not only as a writer. It’s that old doubt spiral. When people ask me what I do, I say I teach. On my tax returns, I’m a teacher. What is a writer, anyway?
I know that asking any writing workshop to answer any of these questions is a little insane, but perhaps it can shake something loose and allow the bucket that holds my fears and doubts to plunge into the creative space in a new way. At the very least, I’ll be able to steal a bunch of his ideas to use in my own classes (feel free to imagine an evil, maniacal laugh if you’d like). Either way, it’s on. I’m writing.