Writing Craft

Will the Mayan Calendar mark Your New Beginning?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Carroll County News

There is a lot of excitement around the world about the fact that the Mayan calendar “ends” on December 21, 2012. Some people say that a cataclysm will take place. Others teach that it will be a moment of “enlightenment” and that some individuals will transition into a higher state of consciousness.

True scholars of the calendar say that it is not “ending” but simply turning to the next b’ak’tun, a unit of approximately 394 solar years.

But while we may not have a major change of global proportions, we can have our own moment of enlightenment, as we once again face a new year with dreams and resolutions.

Make 2013 the year that you begin to pursue the dream that has nested in your heart for years. Push that dream out of the nest and make it fly. Yes, it is possible to make the changes necessary in your life to enable you to do that thing that you really want to do but, until now, have not done.

In preparation for the coming new year, I’m going to devote my three December columns to what I see as the three things necessary to making a course correction in life, so that your path leads to the goal you really desire. I will be speaking, mainly, about writing, but in fact, these three things are necessary to any new creative artistic undertaking.

It’s like a recipe. Take your life, add these three things, and instantly you’ll be making forward progress toward your dream. No longer will you feel that vague longing, sadness, and frustration that the years are passing and you’re really not following your passion. Three things.

The first one is craft. Talent, no matter how great, needs training. Very, very few of us have such prodigious natural abilities that we don’t need to learn the techniques of our creative medium, whether it be writing or a visual art. There are ways to achieve results and tools to use. You need to learn those.

You can read books on craft, and I recommend that. You can spend the money on a university education in the field of your dreams. You can research on the internet. You can hire a private mentor and coach.

All these approaches can achieve results, but I think the best and fastest way is an organized program that covers the full range of craft elements in absorbable modules. That’s how I’ve designed the Community Writing Program at the Writers’ Colony.

It was my goal to cover all the material that I learned at the university where I got my MFA in fiction. I wanted to present this material in informal workshops that didn’t require any previous training or mastery of grammar. Workshops that were affordable for local writers just beginning. I understand that it’s hard to give ourselves permission to spend money on a dream, when we’re so insecure about whether or not we even have any talent.

In addition to being affordable, I wanted the material to be absorbable. I wanted to space the workshops far enough apart that students had time to incorporate what they learned in each workshop into their own writing. I’ve been a participant in blitzkrieg programs that immerse you in intense instruction for multiple days. I know how much material is lost after mental overload.

I’m proud of the Community Writing Program. I believe it meets all these objectives. I believe it’s comprehensive, affordable, and absorbable. It consists of six modules of writing craft, which we will teach on one Saturday of each month from January to June, 2013. The cost of each workshop is $45. This is far below what a comparable program would cost, either live or on the internet.

Mayan calendar or not, 2013 can be the year you change your life, becoming “enlightened” in the sense that you are doing what you’ve always wanted to do, what you love.

Learning the Craft is the first step to following your passion. In my next column, I’ll discuss #2.

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