“For many writers, finding a community is an essential step that leads them to take their work and craft more seriously. Community is where you realize, maybe for the first time, that other people in your own backyard are trying to do the same thing you are.”
-Blake Kimzey, Founder of Writing Workshops Dallas
We’re always so thrilled at WLT when we see our Texas writing community growing, and we were so excited to meet Blake Kimzey this year in Dallas! Blake is the founder of Writing Workshops Dallas, an independent writing school for hardworking writers who want to strengthen their voice, develop a greater understanding of craft, and forge a path to publication along the way.
Writing Workshops Dallas has generously offered a 10 percent discount on their programs to Writers’ League of Texas members. We hope you’ll consider classes with WWD as a gift for the writer in your life (or for yourself!) this holiday season. Registration is now open for WWD’s Winter 2018 classes. Visit their website to learn more, and read the interview with Blake to learn how WLT members can take advantage of this discount.
Scribe: What inspired you to start Writing Workshops Dallas?
Blake Kimzey: I started Writing Workshops Dallas with this mission in mind: to bring writers out of the wilderness and into community with each other. Ten years ago, when I was working in a cubicle with a dream of being a writer, I discovered a writing workshop at a local community college that gave me my first mentor, a trusted group of readers, and, most importantly, deadlines to finish work. I found a group of writers around the workshop table who took my work as seriously as their own. That was transformative for me as a writer and allowed me to take my work seriously.
When I moved back to Dallas after six years out of the state, I saw there was nothing like that community college course I had taken a decade ago. So I started Writing Workshops Dallas. Our goal is to fill a need for creative writers who want a dedicated creative community outside of the university system as well as for those writers planning to apply for and pursue an MFA. We believe having a literary community is essential to the life of any creative writer, no matter the stage of your career.
Scribe: You offer both seminars and multi-week classes. What should students who register for a multi-week class expect?
BK: Our multi-week classes are taught by talented working writers and separated by genre: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and screenwriting. Each class offers a rigorous, deep dive into craft with a focus on workshopping new student work. The classes are inclusive and intentionally small. In each of our multi-week classes every writer has to submit two new pieces of work to the workshop (two new short stories or novel excerpts in our fiction workshops, a series of poems for the poetry workshop, two essays for the nonfiction workshop, etc.). When these classes wrap, we want every writer to have two new pieces that they are equipped to revise and send out into the world. In each of our classes we read a book on craft and a collection of stories or a novel (or collection of essays or poetry for our nonfiction and poetry classes). We also offer beginning through advanced classes in each genre so students can keep pushing forward with their work. We’re very proud of the number of students who have returned to take classes with us.
Scribe: Why is it important for writers to have a community and to participate in organizations like yours and WLT?
BK: For many writers, finding a community is an essential step that leads them to take their work and craft more seriously. Community is where you realize, maybe for the first time, that other people in your own backyard are trying to do the same thing you are. Often it is a mystery how people go from writing alone in a room to having a book on the shelves in a bookstore. Being part of and participating in organizations like WLT and Writing Workshops Dallas can certainly demystify the process. Writing is a solitary endeavor and encouragement from a strong community is invaluable. Plus, there is nothing better than meeting a group of dedicated readers and writers to share your work with. You might even find a mentor.
Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you would give to writers considering an MFA program?
BK: I would avoid going into debt for an MFA program if at all possible. There are so many great fully-funded programs out there and I would focus on applying to those schools. These are often the most competitive, but they will leave you in the best financial position after the program ends. Before you apply, it is also a good idea to join a writing group or workshop. You’ll discover if you like being around the workshop table, writing letters of critique, and if you’re dedicated to meeting creative deadlines for your work on a rolling schedule.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
BK: I loved reading The Dime by Kathleen Kent. It’s a great crime novel set in Dallas, which feels like a rarity. It follows detective Betty Rhyzyk, a Brooklyn transplant who comes from a line of strong characters. It was a thrill to see the streets of Dallas come to life in the pages of Kent’s novel. Plus, Rhyzyk is up against Mexican cartels and cult leaders, which means the thrill and pacing of the novel never relents. I’m delighted to know Kent is working on the second book in the series and to learn that Hollywood is making The Dime into a TV series. I’m all in.
Scribe: Are there any upcoming events with Writing Workshops Dallas that you’d like our readers to know about? And how can WLT members take advantage of the 10 percent discount on your programs?
BK: Writing Workshops Dallas is throwing a free Holiday Cocktail Meet & Greet at The People’s Last Stand at Mockingbird Station on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 from 5 pm to 8 pm. We’d love to meet you! Come out if you’re interested in talking to our faculty about upcoming winter classes or if you just want to meet other writers in Dallas and talk shop. It doesn’t matter if you’re a current or former WWD student — we’d love for you to be part of this community. RSVP on our website if you think you can make it.
For WLT members, mention your membership when registering for a class online, and you’ll be able to select the WLT member option at checkout for a 10 percent discount.
To take advantage of our discount with Writing Workshops Dallas and other benefits, consider joining the Writers’ League. Questions? Call our offices at 512-499-8914 or visit writersleague.org.