Monday, June 7, 2010

Writers' Workshop

For the next six weeks I'll be driving to Missoula on Tuesday nights to attend the 406 Writers' Workshop (406 is the area code for Montana—and yes there's just one area code for the whole state).  The workshop is not directly affiliated with the MFA program at the University of Montana, but it seems all the workshop's instructors have MFAs from there and have taught writing courses there as well as at other universities. 

The course I'm taking is Outdoor/Travel Writing with Jeff Hull, who has published two books and a multitude of articles in magazines such as Audubon, Outside, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, and Outdoor Life.  There will only be nine people in the class, and, in traditional workshop form, we'll each circulate our work to the other members of the group for critique and feedback during the weekly meetings.  Over the course of the workshop, we'll each also get a private consultation with the instructor. 

It's nice to have this workshop so close, so I figure I'd better take advantage of it.  I've written several stories over the past few months, so here's my chance to get a professional opinion about how I can make them better or whether I'm barking up the wrong forest.  I'm bound to give writing my best shot, and if I fail, I'm gonna fail big.  I like that saying, "Shoot for the moon—even if you miss, you'll be among the stars."  Of course that doesn't apply in my case.  For me, it's "Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you'll have to move back to the city and get a real job."

[Edit] This is that most excellent song BMac quoted in the first comment. (Again, Blogger truncated the video.  Double click to see the whole thing on You-Tube.)


  1. As often, the big idea is expressed by one of my personal faves, Radney Foster:

    You better swing your groove like you swing a hammer,
    Sing like Cash did in the slammer,
    Can't go half at it,
    You got to nail it hard hard.

    If I'm gonna play, I'm gonna play loud
    Before the midnight oil, I'll let it all burn out,
    If I'm gonna love, I'm gonna love big,
    Not going hold nothing back from you, and that's the way it is.

    Don't want life watered down, I'm gonna drink it strong. Until it's gone.

    BTW, Radney is coming to Missoula (The Wilma) on June 22.

  2. Gotta hand it to BMac for hitting the nail on the head on this one. With a RF reference no doubt! So glad that someone else out there gets it other than just us.

  3. That's hella bad, BMac! I love it when someone can sum up an approach to life in the words of a country song. It's an art.

  4. I'm a simple man, and I love the simple wisdom of a country song.

  5. Cool about that course! Go, Cliff!

    As for country living, I was chatting with a 17-year-old girl who told me about a guy she knows who complained, "Everybody thinks we're hicks living here in Montana, listening to country music all the time." She replied, "We *are* hicks. And what's wrong with that?"


  6. Thanks, Mary. Sounds like that guy got his causes and effects mixed up.

  7. Go Cliff! I think your writing is absolutely wonderful. You know I read a lot, so I pretty much consider myself an expert on good writing (but you might as well see what this "professional" has to say). :)

  8. Thanks, LDB. I consider you an expert on pretty much everything.