Crystal Vision

Susan DeFAlternative MFA, ReflectionsLeave a Comment

binoculars looking at a sunset

Last month, I shared a big vision of mine: an online alternative MFA program specifically for people writing socially engaged fiction.

Since then, I’ve had a number of clients write to me in a panic, wondering if I will still offer book coaching and editing services, and the answer is yes, absolutely! Workshops Against Empire is just another way I’ll be working with writers to develop their work and bring it to fruition.

But this reminds me of something I recently learned via a personality assessment I completed: Sometimes when a vision gets ahold of me, I don’t always explain it as clearly as I need to in order for others to get the picture.

So I want to do that here, even as this vision is still evolving.

Workshops Against Empire will be a year-long program for writers of fiction with a full draft of a novel. The program will start with a generative writing retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico, designed to provide artistic inspiration and camaraderie while helping writers embrace their own personal aesthetics.

After this retreat, participants will have access to the full suite of online classes I’m currently developing via Teachable: Story Medicine; Anatomy of the Novel; Scene and Structure; and Go Prose. These classes cover how we can use the tools of fiction to create a better world, the core principles of long-form fiction, how to craft powerful scenes, and how to write “professional-strength prose,” respectively.

After writers have completed these core classes with me over the first four months of the program, they’ll enter into a bi-weekly online workshop with other members of their cohort. This workshop will incorporate best practices for equitable, empowering, and effective writing workshops based on the work of Matthew Sallesses (Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping) and Felicia Rose Chavez (The Antiracist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom).

The year-long program will conclude with a business-oriented retreat in Portland, Oregon, in which all graduates will have the opportunity to develop their query materials with the help of a professional and go on to pitch agents and editors on their novel.

The idea here is simple, and that’s not just to provide a service or fill a gap for people but to actually get them over the finish line with a novel. In other words, the idea is to actually catalyze a transformation, from aspiring novelist to debut author—because when it comes to those writing socially engaged fiction, it’s that transformation that’s going to change the world. (What is socially engaged fiction, exactly? More on this here.)

It’s this intention, to help those I work with actually achieve that transformation they’re looking for, that’s guided me in developing this vision, along with my own personal mission to “tell stories that matter and help others to do the same.”

Making this vision a reality will no doubt take a lot of work—not unlike the process of writing a book. But as with all truly inspiring creative projects, I’m up for the challenge. =)

In the meantime, if your vision is to be ready to pitch your novel by year’s end, consider working with me this fall, as I’m currently booking for the coming season.

Best wishes,

Fall Editing and Coaching Opportunities

I currently have openings this fall for a few new projects, including three Book Coaching clients, three Outline Coaching clients, and three Manuscript Evaluations.

Just starting off with an idea for a novel, and want to avoid going through a zillion drafts? Work with me via Outline Coaching, and proceed with confidence.

Have a full draft, and need help establishing your direction in revision? Work with me on a Manuscript Evaluation, and knock that next revision out of the park.

Done wondering what you’re doing, wasting time, and figuring out a fix for every damn plot hole by yourself? Work with me on Book Coaching, and put my  years of experience as a book coach and editor to work for you as you draft or revise.

Interested? Curious? Tell me about your work.

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