The other day, Neil Gaiman posted a tweet that has ruffled a few feathers. It’s about the Clarion writer’s workshop and how to be a “real” writer you NEED to go there (caps were his). Many, many articles and counter-tweets have defended him saying that he probably didn’t mean it literally (let’s hope), but the point remains.

Do we need to go to workshops/conferences/college programs/etc. to be a “real” writer?

I don’t want to get too far into it, but I’ll just throw my hat in the ring: nope.

Sure, I went to college and majored in creative writing. That’s why I work retail right now. Sigh… Self-loathing aside, that’s about it. I’ve been part of online workshops since then, and boy have I learned. Like, a LOT.

Things I should have learned in high school (and probably did but I didn’t listen), and should have been reiterated in college but most certainly were not. Things that uphold the constantly changing and evolving “rules” of writing. Things that I never would have noticed on my own had no one else looked at the stories, and how to spot them before anyone else does. Things that editors absolutely hate. Things that pretty much all readers hate. Things, things, things!

That said, do I feel like I need to go to one of these conferences or workshops?

I’d love to. Really, why wouldn’t I? But can I afford it? Ha, you’re cute. Remember what I said up there about working retail?

But I learn by doing, by observing, by trial and error, by the one simple thing that helps us all: learning lessons.

So for all the editors/first readers/agents reading this right now—don’t expect perfection from me. You’re getting my best work, my proudest work, and my most confident work that I can possibly give. If you don’t like it, oh well, I’m moving on to the next guy. But if you do, thanks for accepting that not only is my story/novel/whatever enjoyable, but that it’s also coming from what we all are: a human being.