by Tony Tallent
We must spend about half our time taking directions and the other half making our own. This is what I have come to realize. For the more advanced, this proportion may likely sway more toward the latter part. Still, for most of
us who love the strands of words put together that make sentences and the strands of sentences that are strung together to make a scene and then a story—the story we are working earnestly on—yes, we want directions.
The ‘most of us’ mentioned here are writers. Writers want direction. Writers seek direction. We get easily trapped in the triangulation of our imaginations, our overflowing words and our firm desire for a system of writing. We read about the processes of other successful writers and try to apply them to our own developing processes. We are awed and inspired, but not always authentically activated. With ripe fingers on the keyboard or pens on paper we try earnestly to follow the directions laid out in the book. It works—sometimes. Yet mostly we are left sitting with a blank page or screen and trying desperately to meet the vision and direction of the writer we admire. We are able to string some words together before closing the notebook or clicking SAVE. The stories are still churning in our heads as we dream into the night and then wake into our regular lives.
Something more real must break our regular lives, we think.
What if we came face-to-face with other writers and were able to gain insight and direction from established authors and writers across the spectrum? Those types of opportunities exist. Many of them are high-profile and high-judgment—exactly what will send many new writers running back to their blank pages.
I was one of those writers who ran back to the blank page. The blank page didn’t t give me directions. I wrote constantly, though inconsistently and without direction. I had written and produced a somewhat successful theatre piece a few years ago, though I didn’t have a writing community to help keep me going. I was one of those lost writers.
I moved from North Carolina to Colorado and then back to the Carolinas. I experienced life in a way I’d never dreamed, being so attached to the Carolinas.
When I returned to my home in the Carolinas I knew it was time to get more prompt and conscious about my writing. I found my way back to the Table Rock Writers’ Workshop. I had attended many writing workshops, though this one had the most impact.
No one can make you more conscious of what it feels to be a writer than Abigail Dewitt. I stepped into her class and was both challenged and charmed by her structure and insight. Abigail perks you up (even on an extremely mist-covered day on the mountain) and insists that your free-writing is your insight to a full novel. She is brilliant. She listens to every word that is spoken and gives feedback to every class member. She is not one of those austere, removed instructors. When Abigail Dewitt comments on your writing—whether it be free-wheeling or close to heart, she will inspire action and direction.
With Abigail’s inspiration I have finished six full notebooks of writing in the five months since my Table Rock classes with her, working toward a finished novel manuscript.
Now that is direction.
Writers need direction and distance to create their own way. The Table Rock Writers’ Workshop offers a perfect blend for writers—a setting that is so beautiful that you’ll want to write about it and a structure that will make you want to talk about it. Table Rock Writers’ will help you make your own direction to start (or finish) your writing project.
Here’s to getting direct. –Tony Tallent
Tony Tallent is the Director of Literacy and Learning at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. He wrote and produced RAMBLE MOUNTAIN, an Appalachian drama in story and music. Tony writes stories and articles about libraries and speaks nationally about storytelling and the importance of libraries. He is currently working on completing a novel set in North Carolina.
Registration is now open. Please read all of the pages of our website carefully to help make your decision about which instructor is right for you. Every instructor will be available for conversations at mealtimes and you’ll have a chance to hear from the faculty in afternoon presentations about craft, in addition to the three-hour small group sessions in the mornings. Please consider joining our community of serious writers.