It took three months, an essay, an application, a resume and 20 pages of my own work, published or not, finished or unfinished, and works in progress. A month after the deadline, I got the email I hoped for:
“I am very pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into The Writer’s Studio Vancouver at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies for the 2019 year. Welcome and congratulations on submitting a successful application!
There was a large and talented pool of applicants this year and each of our mentors read all the applications to select who they were most drawn to work with in the coming year. You were accepted in the first round.”
This was a program I’d been eyeing for a few years – a year-long curriculum tailored for writers and working people to allow them to complete and receive a university credited creative writing certificate, and work with a mentor to guide them through their projects and/or writing life. It’s an exceptional program in that it not only focuses on structure, grammar, and genre but incorporates bi-weekly workshops that force us to write on a deadline for submission and have our work reviewed and critiqued by our peers. While there’s always something to learn in the obligatory classes, it’s in the workshop setting where I will face my deepest fears, find my audience, discover how to shape my work and grow as a writer.
I don’t believe that college or university is required to be a writer – after all, I’ve written and published the last six years without the coveted university degree, but I sometimes find being a student very inspiring. Over the years I’ve taken individual classes and writing workshops, and I always came away from them with new ideas and fresh motivation.
Writing is often thought of as a very solitary occupation, but I don’t believe that. I think we need a writing community, whether it’s through school or joining a local writing group. I think we need to be able to share our work, play with ideas, talk things out, discover new friends and resources that will help us become better writers. A scholastic setting is just one of many ways to connect with my community.
The Writer’s Studio promises to be a stimulating and exciting component of my writing journey. I look forward to uncovering what the year will bring and sharing my insights along the way.
Until next time, happy writing everyone.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.