In five years, over 500 students have enrolled in The Story Course (compare that to an average of 24 students per year in an MFA program).
Since 2013 when The Story Intensive began, there have been 85 students a year enrolled in the program—and they’ve got to do master classes with world-class guest contributors like Margaret Atwood and George Saunders.
We also began offering The Story Workshop in 2016 so students could develop their work even further.
As well, we’ve always offered Special Programs to fill certain niches for hundreds of other students. Our bright and shiny alumni are finishing and publishing books. They also self-publish and win awards and get accepted into prestigious MFA programs. More than a dozen of them have become our teachers. The Little Bird Writing Contest has resulted in six story anthologies, as well as thousands of dollars distributed to winners (and donated to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory).
Our subscriber list has over 11,000 people on it from over a dozen different countries who read my letters and take advantage of free teaching and writing exercises. Nearly a third of that list are doing our Daily Writing Prompts. Our private Facebook group for students has over 500 members. Many of those members have become writing buddies and set up groups of their own. There are another 1,500+ members in our public Facebook group.
There is so much to be proud of.
We’re proud that our students come out happier than when they went in—that they recover from old creative wounds and change how they think about writing. That they learn that writing stories requires a certain state of mind—a state of mind in which you lose self-consciousness and become the consciousness of the story.
Above all, we’re proud that students become better writers and develop their own independent, ever-deepening, and healthy writing practice. That they come to care more about their relationship with writing than the outcome.
“I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing— turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”