Katherine Senior pic 1981True confession: When I was a teen, I was known as “the writer.” When I showed my writing to people (which I did as often as I could) they said, “Ooh! Aah!” When I submitted stories to teachers, they said, “Excellent!” and once, “Is this really yours?” (I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or outraged.)

Then in college I had this one creative writing professor…When I submitted a story that I knew was quite daring (male viewpoint, “immoral” characters, surprise ending), he, astonishingly, redlined all over it. He wrote things like “cliche” and “makes no sense.” He gave me a C.

I was shocked. My internal response was, “This man does not know talent!” (When I think about it, the arrogance of youth got me far, actually.)

After several weeks, we were expected to rewrite our original piece. I couldn’t. Now I had learned some specific things about craft, and could truly see the story’s flaws. I rewrote a later fiction assignment and hoped for the best. At the end of the quarter, we were invited to conference with Professor Arksey. Here’s what he said to me: “When I saw your first story, I thought you had no talent at all. But your poems were quite good and this last story is excellent. I’m pleasantly surprised.”

This is just to say a lot of young writers have no way of getting feedback and growing in their creative writing. They are told it’s good, but not given any real guidance. (It’s not a college essay, so it doesn’t “count.”) Had I not been as arrogant as I was, I may have given up altogether with that first C and decided I was not a writer after all.

This is why I’m offering an advanced fiction class to teen and college-age writers in the same predicament I was, who may not have a Professor Arksey (or who have, and are daunted). If you fit this description and are ready for more challenge, I invite you to apply. You need to submit a writing sample, and I’ll have to be selective.  I’ll take no more than twelve. If you know of someone who would benefit from this class, please pass this on. I will take the humble as well as the arrogant. Let’s learn together.

TEENWrite: Advanced Fiction Writing

Tuesdays, October 21-December 16, location TBD. Teens and college-age, limited enrollment, apply with a writing sample. Deadline: September 26


Here are some other fall classes and writing events. I’d love to see you there!

Writing the Hidden Story

Thursdays beginning September 18 at Bellevue College, North Campus (Note that the print catalog description is incorrect and describes the Plotting and Scheming class instead of Hidden Story.)

Poetry and Healing

One-day workshop, Saturday, September 27 at Bellevue College, North Campus

Epicwrite in the Park

One-day Live-Action Roleplaying and Writing event Saturday, September 20 in Carnation.

Epicwrite Overnight, “Nefarious Nemeses,”

October 10-11 at Cornet Bay Retreat Center, Whidbey Island.


Apply for TEENWrite: Advanced Fiction Writing by Sept 26