So I am in Yellow Springs, Ohio, at the 25th Annual Antioch Writers Workshop. If you are a writer, this is a great place to be. Mixing with wannabes and not-yet-beens are former wannabes and not-yet-beens who now ARE.
(Author Note – These statements are not meant to demean or demoralize any of the writers attending the Workshop. Regardless of your level of ability or the place on your writing journey, the fact that you are here is worthy of commendation. You rock! And now back to the regularly scheduled blog post…)
Saying that these writers ‘ARE’ simply means that these are writers who have traditionally published books and/or stories and/or poetry. These are the people most writers want to be, when someday rolls around (after opportunity has met up with talent and traveled together to the land of The Famous).
And yet, they ARE people. Real people. Not ersatz people…not faux people…not some fresh incarnation of humankind heretofore never seen on earth. People.
In the midst of these days, when pop culture seems to have replaced history as the primary source of our shared experiences, we tend to forget that the words we read in books and magazines (or tweeted and blogged and broadcast worldwide via websites and social media) are written by people like us. We forget that those who have success in the creative arts have not ascended to some higher plane of being where they become something greater or more special than anyone else.
Certainly, success and the work it takes to achieve it is worthy of respect and admiration. But don’t put successful writers on a pedestal that stands higher than you think you could ever reach…because all successful writers began their writing journeys as someone who had to learn to write. We just don’t happen to notice them until their success is outwardly evident.
The Antioch Writers Workshop is great for reminding you that published writers are real people. Attendees have direct access to famous, successful, published authors who are happy to discuss whose books they love, when they work most effectively, or why your novel about a wine-drinking bullfrog named Jeremiah might need more subplots.
Conversing with the faculty demystifies their celebrity. Connecting with them before or after classes reminds you that they were once asking someone else the questions you’d like them to answer for you. Lunching with faculty members reminds you that they, too, need to eat. Having a beer or soda after a day of wordplay tells you that the successful get thirsty, too (sometimes for an adult beverage or two). And all of this says that these are real people who have achieved success with their writing…success that you might find in your personal creative journey.
And when you do find that success, remember what the faculty members at Antioch are reminding me daily this week: You’re a person just like everyone else…and it is good give back to those who are where you once were.