Posted by on 08/24/2019

FROM ROCK SALT WRITERS’ WORKSHOP: FICTION AND MORE

 by Peter Anderson

Want to know the best kept secret about writing? It’s other writers. Not only those on our bookshelves or in files packed behind the computer screen, but actual persons engaged in the same joyous, arduous, sometimes perilous struggle to which we ourselves are (or would like to be) committed. Contact counts, precisely because writers write alone, but find nothing so stimulating for their own thinking as interactive discussion with other writers. We need only name the Hemingway-Gertrude Stein-Ezra Pound-Scott Fitzgerald-James Joyce axis, and the continuing impact of the modernist breakthrough. Or Kerouac-Ginsberg-Burroughs and the emergence of the Beats. Or — unforgettably — the Bronte sisters.

Writers know, because writers do.

At Rock Salt, modeling our practice upon the vital importance to the development of our own work of cross-connecting with other writers, we get together as a group for six lively and productive weeks in order to concentrate on the practice of narrative fiction/creative nonfiction (high literary or popular, the preference is yours). We shall read and comment upon one another’s stories, always with an eye to honing and strengthening what is written, whether the draft before us happens to be a first-ever attempt by someone just setting out, or a highly skilled advanced draft by a writer who needs only a tip or two to bring the story at stake to the point of potential publication.

As a touchstone for what is currently valued in literary narrative (also open to discussion and analysis, since it offers us “other writers” in print), recommended for our group is The Best American Short Stories: 2018, edited by Roxane Gay. Rest assured, informal, diverse, and egalitarian as Rock Salt is, it is not headless. Led by award winning novelist Peter Anderson who has run many, many such workshops over the years, our encounters are spirited, sometimes even exuberant, but at all times held firmly on track and keenly focused on insights into the key question of the how of writing.

Peter Anderson’s own hard-hitting novel of South Africa under apartheid, The Unspeakable, has won two literary awards: the LFBR award for Excellence in Literary Fiction, and the Alex la Guma award in the International Novel, as well as being named to the Kirkus Reviews top 100 of 2016, and later as a Kirkus Notable Book. He has also published a number of short stories, most recently “Until Next Time” in Iconoclast (2019). Peter is moreover a prize-winning poet, and a Pushcart nominated literary critic. Academically, he holds both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D.

In light of all the above, Ghost Town is proud to lay claim to the Rock Salt Writers’ Workshop as Texoma’s leading indie writing center, a hub for all aspirant writers of narrative in the region and beyond.

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