Our esteemed instructor Victor Wildman will be starting workshops for long-form creative writing projects on August 20th. As part of the workshops, writers will pursue the kind of deeper, more sustained and meaningful work that a more conventional workshop context won’t permit. Especially during longer projects, writers face heavier roadblocks and creative crises. Victor’s workshop will provide constructive criticism, catalysts for creativity, and a supportive environment for writers dealing with these issues.
If you are interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, you may find several testimonies of Victor’s students:
I don’t think I’d be writing anything if not for Victor. He keeps me moving forward by providing encouragement, inspiration and structure. His assignments have helped me look at writing – and how I write – in totally new ways. I didn’t even know I was in a writing rut until his assignments got me out!
I’ve been in Victor’s advanced workshop since he started it and it has helped me immensely. The advanced assignments are specific to the student’s chosen writing project – and Victor is really good at devising writing exercises that helped me develop the direction and voice for the story I’m writing. The weekly critique keeps me focused and able to edit and improve as I go along. He is passionate about teaching and interested and involved in everybody’s projects and I’m learning a lot from the other students’ writing because of that.
At the terminus of the second act of The Empire Strikes Back (1983), Luke Skywalker is brought before the mouth of a cave fashioned from the tendrils of a massive mangrove tree so that it resembles a wound in the hip of some ancient infinite-limbed behemoth fossilized in the Dagobah swamps. Fog and dark watch back at him through the hollow. He turns to his diminutive master and asks what’s in there. “Only what you take with you.” There is no sense of levity in Yoda’s riposte but the grim sincerity of a sufferer lingers in the delivery. This is part of training, the viewer remembers. Surely no mortal threat lies within.
When Luke enters he is confronted by what appears to be his nemesis, the right hand of the Emperor and baddie in black supreme Darth Vader. Silent, they stare down, their sabers ignite, and in a flurry of blows the battle’s won, Luke sweating triumphant over the supine black leather-plastic suit. Curious at the nature of his foe, Luke leers at the iconic bug-eyes and pyramidal mouthpiece before it all suddenly explodes (or he swipes at it with his saber– the cut of this part of the scene always seemed a tad ambiguous, though either interpretation works grade-grub wonders English-essay-wise). There in the smoke and wires of the aftermath is framed himself– Luke’s face in the helmet of Vader. As Luke stares and looks away a set of emotions like racehorses out the gate jockey for facial showcase: bewilderment, relief, horror, puzzlement, intrigue, foreboding, perhaps a fraction of understanding of an intellectual trick played: in confronting the enemy it is ourselves that we must battle, it is ourselves we fell, it is something different and new and yet same that emerges from the murk back to the master and the swamp. What we meet in our trials ahead will forever be what we bring with us reflected, refracted, disguised then bared, though when’s the last time you’ve taken inventory of your baggage? Would you know if it was staring you down, sword drawn? How many times must you battle before you recognize that fraction of yourself for what it is?
Victor Wildman’s Advanced Workshop works approximately on the same level as this scene and is no less an uncanny excavation of the self, just via prose as guided by his deft and empathetic hand as opposed to single lightsaber combat with a Dark Side-infused cave’s automatonic approximation of your inner psychic turmoil. You bring only what you take with you. The course is focused on one larger writing project of yours, to be repeatedly reexamined through laser-focused weekly assignments and workshopped piecemeal with a group of if not likeminded then like-goaled writers with their own odysseys to hustle through. There are occasional sidetracks–Victor’s encyclopedic knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm of the American avant-garde leads him to recommend thoroughly challenging works on an individual basis that allow for new approaches to your own struggles–but more often than not the workshop is you facing down yourself with Victor on your side of the ring. His stylistic empathy shows itself as a willingness to work with anyone and give them constructive feedback without descending into Iowa-Workshop-esque totalitarianism, and it speaks volumes to the man’s mission. He is dedicated to the possibility of art, and to the promise its creation holds for the creator as only a seasoned veteran of the modern writing world can know. In his deviously creative weekly assignments, insightful in-class and over-email commentary, and seemingly unending curiosity as to the genesis of every story, he proves himself a capable Yoda of the written word.
I took three of Victor’s seminars over the winter and spring and found them to be invaluable. I had had an idea for a writing project, but was not making much progress on my own and Victor’s classes helped turn that around. First of all, his encouragement and enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring. I never felt any judgement, and his excitement about all of our work helped us to develop the habit of writing and to enjoy the process, rather than be focused on a final product. And, lastly, I’d say that he had a really unique ability to help hone some vague ideas into a place, an era, and characters. As a teacher, mentor, and editor, he was great, and I left each class much more inspired to continue my own work, and more equipped to do so.
I came to Victor’s workshop with hundreds of pages of transcribed interviews. Victor helped me re-imagine my project as fiction and in doing so taught me the redemptive power of fiction. Victor helped me feel my way into my characters lives so that gaps in my knowledge became opportunities to explore rather than barriers to writing.