Monday, May 17, 2010

Grub Tales: Sue Williams

Sue Williams is a British writer who moved to the Boston area six years ago. As well as being an Assistant Book and Magazine Editor for Narrative Magazine, she's a writing instructor at Grub Street. Sue's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, Night Train, Salamander, Redivider, Gargoyle, The Yalobusha Review, and numerous other books and magazines. She also publishes erotica under a pen name. Recent awards include first place in the Carolyn A. Clark Flash Fiction Prize and an Honourable Mention in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open (Dec '09). Sue also co-runs the Boston arts salon, Art2Art, and has written a collaborative chapbook with her writing group, entitled Authors Anonymous. You can find Sue online at:

Moving from England to America was nerve-wracking. We arrived in our new apartment, which we'd never seen before, with little more than clothes and books; it would take months for our furniture to arrive. I'd brought my computer, however, and, determined to develop my writing skills and meet like minds, one of the first things I did was to track down a writing class. During the ten-week Grub course I signed up for, I wrote a story that would soon become my first fiction publication, and would later give rise to the idea for a novel, which is now in its final draft.

Six years on, I still enjoy taking Grub classes and am also an instructor. In fact, I recently delivered a one-night seminar entitled, "Go Deeper, Baby: Writing Meaningful Erotica," which was one of the most inspiring three hours I've spent as a teacher. At the start, many of the writers expressed their frustration with the prejudices surrounding a genre that is often misunderstood. This seminar provided a place where their work was finally being valued and taken seriously.

During the workshop, a deeply talented writer wrote about a personal experience, which he then read aloud to the group. Afterwards, he flushed, pressing his hands to his face, and explained that it felt amazing to have shared such a powerful memory -- one, in fact, that he'd never revealed before. We told him it was an honor for us, and I've no doubt his beautiful piece will soon be published. This kind of experience is typical of the Grub community; I myself had a similar moment when sharing a story I wrote in Steve Almond's class. Grub not only teaches the craft of writing, it also provides a warm environment where growth and courage are rewarded.

In short, because of Grub Street I've: become a better writer, published my stories, delivered exciting seminars, made some of the best friends I've known, joined wonderful writing groups, met potential agents, been honored to share in the talents of others, and presented what is often daring work with large, receptive audiences. I'm also sure that Art2Art, the Boston arts salon I co-run with friends, was partly inspired by the wonders I've seen at Grub.

Just as being a fiction writer is more than telling stories, so Grub is more than a writing center. How lucky we are to be part of it.

Editor's noteThe next Art2Art will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 22 at the Piano Factory building in the South End. Visit the Art2Art blog for further details!

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