In November — A Workshop for Writers on Military Culture

A female soldier sits against the wall playing a guitar, her rifle propped next to her.  A kitten plays in her kevlar.About a month ago,  I ran across this blog post by Donna McDonald: A Successful Author Gives Tips for Introverts and this one more recently about how the culture of women keeps us from participating and went “Holy Cow!” I’ve had so much trouble getting the word out about me, and even writing blog posts.  Just here, you’ll have probably seen some changes.  I added most of my writing credits.  In my head, I kept thinking, “They’re old,” “They’re not fantasy,” but I wasn’t thinking, “They’re writing credit.”  How are people supposed to know I’m a writer if I don’t post a list of what I’ve written?

So, as part of this effort to push myself out there, I volunteered to do a workshop for Forward Motion’s Back to School.

The workshop is called “Basic Training of Military Culture,” and it’s for writers who want to create a military character or a veteran.  The class will start on November 5, 2012 (corrected date), and will be 4 weeks, with a new lesson each Monday.

This is a breakdown of the topics:

Lesson 1: Overview of the Military.  This topic will include research tips and common myths about military.  We’ll also be digging into rank!  I promise not to get too jargony.

Lesson 2: The Civilian Enlists.  To help you understand the culture, we’ll start with what a potential recruit sees.

Lesson 3: Basic Training.  Going through Basic Training is the ultimate immersion into military culture, since the drills sergeants have to take teenagers and adults and teach them the discipline of how to be a soldier.

Lesson 4: Soldier Life.  The most common image of a soldier is from Basic Training, and the day to day life of one is a much
different experience.  We’ll also drop in on the very different experience of war.

There is no charge for this workshop.  If you want to attend, you just need to register at the site, which means you can check out the other workshops they offer through the year and participate on the message boards.

It was really a challenge writing the lessons for this.  The culture of the military is such that I’ve found it difficult to separate itself from it.  How do you convey the culture without veering into jargon, which is a huge part of culture? How do you convey the culture without killing the reader with accuracy?  It’s a big challenge for a writer, but I think that someone who isn’t in the military actually will do better with it if they know the right questions to research.

In the meantime though, do you have any questions about military culture?

Since we’re talking military, check out Grateful for a Gift to ‘Any Soldier‘ that was published in the Washington Post.  I sent it in and didn’t expect them to do anything with it and was quite shocked when I opened the newspaper and saw my picture.  I didn’t tell anyone, but everyone at work saw it, and it was republished there as well (reminds me: Add another credit).