Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t have much sense, so it’s no surprise I signed up for an eight week course where I hope to have completed a draft of another novel. The final manuscript of Breakfast With Neruda is submitted, the draft of its sequel is tweaked, and book three is begging to be written. So why not?
How Writers Write Fiction is an annual event sponsored by the University of Iowa, known for producing noted writers such as Robert Olen Butler, Flannery O’Connor, and Rita Dove. The class is being led by poet and essayist Christopher Merrill and novelist Angela Flourney. Best of all, the class is free. (There’s an option to take it for a certificate of completion for $50.00.)
For the past seven days I’ve set up my account, joined a discussion group called Readers Writers, formed a discussion group I titled Not Your First Rodeo, and completed some of the short pre-writing assignments. The course doesn't officially commence until Oct 1, but the organizers devised a series of Welcome Week activities which include instructional videos, readings, and writing exercises designed to establish writing communities and familiarize us with the course components.
. I like that the course has options for beginning and advanced writers. In both cases, peer feedback is part of the attraction. My recent move has left me bereft of my writing peeps. I have one local friend with whom I write, yet I’ve also been getting to know writers in my two discussion groups.
I chose Readers Writers because the level of discussion revealed participants who read at a deeper level than most book discussion groups. Also, the group was small. In a free course offered worldwide, it’s important to find a niche group. There are teaching moderators, but since I’ve not taken the class before I’m not sure this works. I imagine feedback won’t be live.
I also sponsor a group I called Not Your First Rodeo for experienced writers. I hope to find one or two people here with whom I can exchange meaningful dialogue and criticism.
In addition to readings and writing assignments, there will be quizzes. Only certificate seekers are required to take them, but I plan to participate. I may find I know nothing about writing fiction.