Katherine Owen has written and released three novels, Not To Us, When I See You, preceded by her first novel, Seeing Julia, which was the recipient of the Zola Award in 2010 from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In fact, all three of her books are currently on Amazon’s best seller list for American Drama.
Katherine is a writer of contemporary fiction. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Communications-Editorial Journalism with a minor in English Literature from the University of Washington. She lives in an old house near the city of Seattle that overlooks Lake Washington with her husband, two children and a couple of crazy cats where she writes edgy fiction.
It is because of Katherine’s unique opportunity to learn and study from highly skilled masters of the craft that I’ve asked her if she would kindly share some of her journey and writing experience with all of us here today.
So without further ado, here’s Katherine!
Thank you, Karen.
An Essential Element To This Writer’s Life
EVERY WRITER CONVERGES ONTO THE PATH OF WRITING from a different place, but the journey, itself, usually begins with one particular person’s praise of your work. “This is really good; have you thought about being a writer?” A few writers take this bait and declare themselves a writer early on. The rest of us resist the calling and spend quite a bit of our lives in denial. I was in this latter group. So, when I finally jumped into the fray of a writer’s life, it was disconcerting to finally achieve the dream—writing full-time—only to discover that I had no idea what I was really doing.
That first year, I read every book on writing, wrote a seven-hundred page first novel, but soon discovered that the literary world was a lonely place filled with false starts, lots of stops, and uncertainty. I wasn’t really sure what the next step should be. Early readers of my work gave me feedback. It was good. I loved it. Keep going. There wasn’t a lot of depth to these critiques and I remained unsure as to how to make myself a better writer.
This led me to question if I could really write at all. Should I get an MFA? Would credentials prove this to me or the literary world? Defeat set in. I didn’t have that kind of time. I’d spent a good number of years already doing something completely different and away from writing. I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to leave my family and go away to Iowa for a year or so and get another degree when all I really wanted to do was write. So, the idea began to resonate that maybe what I needed to do was take a writing class to garner additional insight into my craft and answer the question for myself: Did I have what it takes to be a good writer? That’s when I found The Writers Studio.
There are all kinds of online class offerings from places like Gotham to Writer’s Digest to online courses right in your own community that will take your money and teach you some of the elements of writing. Yet, The Writers Studio, in my mind, sets itself apart because of its unique approach and true literary focus. Located in New York City, The Writers Studio was founded by Philip Schultz, a poet and fiction writer, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his work, Failure.
The program’s advisory board consists of legendary writers like Jennifer Egan (my personal crush), Julia Glass, Bill Henderson, and many others. Class offerings include several in-person classes in New York City, San Francisco, Tucson, and even Amsterdam, but the program also reaches a wide array of writers through its online writing courses. I’ve been taking these online fiction classes for the past two and half years.
The Writers Studio isn’t a writing program to learn about where to place commas, use proper grammar, or how to plot a novel. Rather, it’s a place to learn about various persona narrators, mood, and tone. The program’s method, encourages students to “try on” different narrative voices—personas—with the belief that by studying other writers’ work and their techniques and/or approaches, your own writing will ascend to the next level. I liken it to painting with oils or acrylics. As an artist, you might study Monet’s work and attempt to paint like him, but your own artistic rendering would invariably be different. This is what happens when you study the works of other writers and utilize the TWS method. It opens up your mind to the possibilities in your own craft. Literally.
In my writing experience with the program, I have been able to better discern mood, tone, and establish various persona narrators within my work. I could never have written When I See You without having taken these classes. This particular novel is told from two points of view, the perspectives of a man and a woman, in first person present tense, no less. It is more complex than my other novels because of that alone; and, I owe my ability to even attempt this technique to the classes I’ve taken. In fact, all three of my currently released novels were inspired from assignments I first wrote in class. Even my current work-in-progress, tentatively titled This Much Is True, was first inspired by a fiction assignment I did in class a few sessions back.
It could be that you’re already a good writer, but you still question how to take your work to the next level. The Writers Studio will invariably up your game because studying the great writers of our time and past will ultimately improve your own writing. I can’t say enough about what I’ve learned and how my writing has evolved with The Writers Studio. This past spring I completed my second Fiction IV class. I’m contemplating taking another class in the fall because making lasting connections with other writers, receiving feedback from both peers and teachers about my writing, and providing critiques of other writers’ work on a weekly basis has become an essential element to this writer’s life.
It has made me a better writer; and, it is my hope it may do the same for you.
Thank you all for coming to view my post today. I think Karen has an announcement. Am I right, Karen?
Yes, you’re right Katherine. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with us!
As was mention above, Katherine Owen has released three novels: Seeing Julia (A Zola Award Winner), Not To Us, and When I See You.
If you leave a comment on Katherine’s post today and enter your information in the Rafflecopter box below, you will qualify to win a free copy of one of her books. She is giving away two of each. One paperback and one ebook in kindle format.
Thank you Katherine. This is very generous of you!
And don’t forget to look for her next novel, This Much Is True, slated for release later this summer 2012. Here’s the story-line, “They share an unexpected connection that proves life changing which leads to a continual search: he, to find her; she to stay lost.”
And the winners are:
Seeing Julia Paperback
Seeing Julia eBook
Pat O’Dea Rosen
Not To Us Paperback
Not To Us eBook
When I See You Paperback
When I See You eBook
Congratulations to everyone!
Thank you everyone for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!