I have a confession—I love my job.

I mean, yeah, there are those bad days when nothing goes right: the printer breaks down as I’m scrambling to complete a project due five minutes ago; the copier declares itself jammed when I know that’s not true because I unjammed it five minutes ago; my computer crashes five times five minutes ago…nothing sends me over the edge like technology revolting against me five minutes ago!

But technology catastrophes aside, Writers’ Program is a lovely place to work and here’s one big reason why—Writers Studio!

Every February, Writers’ Program offers Writers Studio which is 4 days of intensive workshops on anything from writing the first screenplay to revising a novel. Each year, the line-up of instructors and course offerings change but the one constant remains—as a staff member it is my job to sit in on however many classes I like. Yes, you read that right—sit in on whichever writing classes float my boat! I know, it’s a tough task but somebody must do it and it might as well be me.

Last year being my first on staff, I admit Writers Studio was a blur along with the rest of those early months. But not this year; this year, I came prepared. With my writing interests in mind, I chose 4 of the 9 workshops to observe and here’s how it went down:

10am, I arrive in Barbara Abercrombie‘s Writing the Personal Essay and settle into a seat in the back in the hopes of not disturbing the class or drawing attention to myself. (What can I say? I get shy!) The class has just begun for the day and as Barbara recaps what they’ve already covered and inquires about their nights of writing outside of class, I’m immediately envious of these students enrolled in the course. Barbara’s calm and inviting energy puts the students at ease, everyone is eager to participate, and I get so swept up in the first writing exercise that for a moment I forget I’m an interloper. I leave class after 45 minutes thinking, “Note to self: take a class taught by Barbara Abercrombie!”

11am, I arrive in Mark Sarvas Novel Revision Techniques and settle into a seat in the back. I have an almost completed novel screaming out for revisions if only I could pick the sucker up and regain momentum! Mark is covering a tool he uses to ensure he’s not missing key elements of his story and the students are completely transfixed by it. I am too. Unfortunately, Mark’s class cuts for a break 20 minutes into my time there and I leave thinking, “Note to self: take a class taught by Mark Sarvas!”

12pm, I arrive in Samantha Dunn‘s Memoir Writing: Works-in-Progress class and settle into a seat in the front directly behind her (eek!). I push through my shyness (writing a memoir is on my “bucket list” so I should probably ditch that insecurity) and, thank goodness I do, because the class is in the middle of providing feedback on a student’s work and couldn’t care less that I’m there. However, I’m so happy I am—the man’s work is beyond inspiring and his fellow students offer insightful and equally inspiring feedback. I leave class after 45 minutes thinking, “Note to self: take a class taught by Samantha Dunn!”

2pm, I arrive in Lisa Cron‘s Inside Story: Creating Powerful Narratives class and settle into a seat in the back (only by now I’m wishing I could just go saddle up to the table, enough of this invisible in the corner bit!). The 45 minutes go by fast as Lisa rapid fires insightful, straight shooting answers during a Q&A session. I jot down two pages of notes before departing after 45 minutes thinking, “Note to self: take a class taught by Lisa Cron!”

I have a confession—I love writing. And thank you to the Writers Studio students and instructors who reminded me of that by diving deep into their writing and allowing me to passively join in the fun! Since the event, I’ve been writing as much as time allows (it’s amazing how much more time I have when I stop fiddling with my iPhone). Next year may be my time to enroll in the Writers Studio as well. No more of this sitting in the back as a casual observer for me; I want to sit at big table with the adults!

Who wants to ditch the technical glitches back at the office and dive in deep with me? The next Writers Studio will take place February 2014 with the instructor lineup being announced in early May 2013!

Carla Janas is the Assistant to the Director. Write to her at cjanas@uclaextension.edu.

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