You’ve been working on your story, novel, or essay long enough to know that there’s something good in there — but you haven’t finished it, yet. Perhaps you’ve received feedback already, or started a revision. You’re in the murky middle draft, and you’re not sure what you should do next. You want clear direction. You want to finish it. But how?
In this three-day workshop, writers will workshop their middle drafts together, and receive feedback and practical guidance on how to finish their work.
You’ll leave feeling confident, clear-headed, and inspired. You’ll go home with a plan, knowing how to finish your work.
The most exciting part of this retreat is experiencing the confidence that comes from clarification, as well as the joy of giving and receiving valuable critiques. It’s edifying to receive feedback, but true understanding comes from learning how to read like a writer.
My critique method has benevolent boundaries, and the roots of our discussion are firmly planted in writing craft. I provide guidelines to all writers ahead of time, so we work in an atmosphere of trust and delight. This is open to writers of short fiction, novel, memoir, or creative non-fiction.
When you register, you’ll be asked to fill out a short questionnaire and you’ll be sent instructions on how and where to send your pages.
All participants will be reading and giving feedback on each other’s work. I will read every piece and provide critiques, as well as facilitating discussion with the class. You’ll be sent my step-by-step critique guidelines ahead of time; this will explain the format and method completely.
“Sarah is an expert who creates a calm, intentional, and powerful space for writers to drop deeply into their practice in a way that's expansive and eye-opening. She even manages to make it feel like soul work, while giving writers real and practical tools.”
This is Good and the Victoria Festival of Authors
“Writing and sharing a short story made me more nervous then I care to admit. Sarah does an excellent job of creating a safe space in her classes, offering constructive tips and tricks to start (and finish) stories in an environment that is never intimidating or critical. It is her warmth and the collegial atmosphere she creates that makes her workshops so enjoyable, giving me confidence to go places with my writing that I wouldn't have reached on my own.”
“I've taken a lot of courses, in all sorts of areas, including several other creative writing courses. Some of those courses have made me a more self-conscious writer. Sarah's course is different. It encourages you to pay close attention to what delights and inspires and intrigues you, in your own writing, and in the writing of others. It encourages you to write what you like, how you like. I loved getting feedback on my writing from so many lovely people who were determined to show me my strengths. I loved going in to the online classroom every week.”
“Ask me about a perfect writing coach and I'll tell you about Sarah. A wonderfully insightful and warmhearted mentor she's coached me towards a healthy, loving relationship with my writing. She's offered invaluable advice on any imaginable writing topic: how to access my creative reservoir, questions on technique, style and aesthetics, how to work around writer's block. She's a revision wizard who provides gentle, yet highly potent editorial feedback.”
“Sarah's writing workshops are the anchor that ensures writing practice in my week. Her classes and exercises provide a rich soil from which to generate material and keep going to the first draft and beyond. The classes are consistently supportive and the people I have met through Sarah's workshops have helped create a necessary writing community.”
“Sarah’s critique and coaching sessions for my short story helped me create new and exciting characters – significantly develop the narrative background – and enrich the plot and themes. The number one lesson I learned from her critique method is to expect and rejoice in the process of re-vision.”
There is no maximum word count, but try to keep it under 6,000 words.
If you would like feedback on your novel, please submit a chapter or excerpt.
Your story is due May 1st at the latest, so that all students can read each other's work in advance. Please submit it earlier if you can.
We will be meeting in a private, lovely garden flat in central London, UK, near the signature candy-coloured homes of Notting Hill. Westbourne Park tube station is a five-minute walk away and Notting Hill Gate station is a ten-minute walk.
The flat is beautiful and spacious and has a lovely garden space for us to use if the weather cooperates.
“Sarah’s writing classes helped make writing one of my closest friends. Her expansive spirit leaves room for all styles and personalities. She’s a truly talented teacher, helping guide even the most timid.”
“Everything that Sarah Selecky puts together is the result of much considered thought.”
“Your writing and your teaching has literally changed my writing life.”
“The weekend with Sarah was without exaggeration, a life-saving experience for me ... My writing is stronger, deeper and truer.”
Jo Anne Wilson
“Sarah artfully creates a safe and soulful place for the playful mind and serious pen. A resolution of opposites unite, and you find yourself: trusting, having fun, and doing what you showed up to do. Write.”
Sarah Selecky earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and her writing has appeared in top Canadian magazines and quarterlies such as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize Anthology.
Sarah is the author of This Cake Is for the Party, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, as well as the new novel Radiant Shimmering Light.
She is also the creator of internationally-acclaimed creative writing school (and MFA alternative) Sarah Selecky Writing School, which includes collaborations with Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Karen Joy Fowler, and other authors.
“Sarah is a thoughtful and brilliant teacher. I’m so grateful for the way she nudges you toward your own creative strengths.”
“Her gentle encouragement coaxes even the most recalcitrant writer to the blank page ... Signing up for Sarah's program enabled me to stoke the creative fire in a safe, comforting way and encouraged me to trust my inner voice. ”
“I am eternally grateful for the affordable opportunity to gain wisdom and writerly advice from such a creative, passionate, generous and truly caring soul.”
“Sarah teaches us how to explore. Like cavers new to the sport, she equips us with headlamps, helmets and snacks. If it weren’t for her instruction I’d still be in the dark calling out “hello” and hearing it being repeated back to me.”
Ilka de Laat
“I took Sarah’s writing practice course and it was pure gold.”
“We found that the energy in the room actually changed when she started speaking ... The feedback we received from participants is that Sarah’s workshop changed the way they felt about their writing practice, and there was a shift that happened in their consciousness and connection to their work. I would highly recommend as a writing instructor – we will certainly be inviting her back.”
Stratford Writing Festival