In honor of our annual alumni fundraiser this week, we reached out to our wonderful past author and editor guests to get their thoughts on Alpha, why they decided to teach at our workshop, and why the workshop matters so much. Here’s what some of them had to say:
I went to teach at Alpha just thinking it might be fun. I left utterly in love with my students – and what’s more, utterly impressed with their dedication, devotion, and mature insights into the writing process. They all have things to say, and they are learning to say it even better at Alpha. I’ve recommended the program to a lot of people since then. It’s not just a place for kids with a burning passion to read and write to find each other – which is blessing and reason enough! – it’s also a place that genuinely welcomes them into the world of professional scribbling. And I love the way that the older students and graduates mentor the younger ones. A wonderful program that I heartily support!
– Ellen Kushner
I was suckered into teaching the Alpha Writers Workshop back in 2007! I mean, seriously, who in their right mind wants to spend time working with a group of talented, focused, enthusiastic young people determined to change the world through telling great stories? Only a sucker, am I right?! And I would gladly do it again. Year after year, Alpha brings together an ambitious group of young writers who are headed places and it is alway fun to tag along for the ride. The stories are practically bonus.
– C.C. Finlay
I volunteered to teach at Alpha because I thought it would be a wonderful learning opportunity for me — there’s no better way to deepen your understanding of a topic than to teach it to someone else–and to “pay forward” the many fine teachers and mentors who have helped me along in my writing career. What I didn’t expect was that I would also meet such a fabulous group of bright, enthusiastic young writers who would challenge, energize, and excite me about my own writing. Teaching at Alpha was a fabulous experience and I would love to do it again if I can.
– David D. Levine
I taught at Alpha, because so many really talented writers have started there or taught there. I wanted to see what the excitement was about — and I loved every bit of it. The students were unbelievably creative and energetic.
– Kij Johnson
Helping (encouraging, giving information to, giving advice to) young writers is a very good cause.
– Michael Kandel
The Science Fiction and Fantasy genres are unusually supportive of fledgling writers, and relentlessly collegial once you’ve earned your wings. They are also genres that have always appealed to teenagers. Alpha is a great opportunity to tie those two things together. A chance for a practitioner to pay forward — by training the writers of the next up-and-coming generation, while they’re still in their teens. It was a privilege to teach there, and has been fun to see the students achieve professional success. I only wish it had existed when I was that age. [One more thing to add to my time-travel agenda.]
– Timons Esaias
So many talented finalists for the Dell Magazine Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing came to us with prior experience of the Alpha Workshop that I became intrigued. What were Diane and the other teachers doing so well? Doing so right? When I was invited to participate in 2009, I was excited to have the chance to see for myself. Through the Dell Award, I’ve long encouraged college-aged writers to hone their SF and fantasy skills. Teaching at Alpha was a chance to get that boost in even earlier. The proof that Alpha’s education and encouragement are working can be seen in the exciting work being done by graduates of the program. Looking forward to many more Alpha grads among the Dell Award finalists and very happy to have had a chance to be a part of that.
– Sheila Williams
Writers can start at any age, and everyone from PhDs to plumbers can write a bestseller. But there’s one thing they need to succeed: the time to concentrate and learn, and a community of support to make it through the rough patches. Alpha gives young writers both, in the form of an encouraging and impressively smart summer workshop, hosted by professionals who know how to have fun with serious business. It’s uniquely catered to teens — a summer camp of the speculative – where talented new authors learn about the genre, the marketplace, and the world of science fiction/fantasy, and there’s nothing else like it out there. This isn’t high school – it’s a sanctuary for people who love genre fiction so much they want to write it and are smart enough to realize that Alpha is the best way for them to uniquely prepare for a career in creative writing.
– Michael A. Arnzen
Thanks to all our past author and editor guests who contributed! Speaking of contributing, you can support our scholarship fund, and make Alpha possible for young writers who couldn’t afford it otherwise, here.