Q&A with Writing Fiction Tutor, Keith Ridgway

4 minutes read

We spoke to tutor Keith Ridgway recently and discussed everything you need to know about his Writing Fiction course – including what you'll gain, what you'll read, and what advice he has for writers who might be feeling stuck.

What is the Writing Fiction course?

Writing Fiction is a course that I teach at the Faber Academy. It runs for twelve weeks – so that’s twelve two-hour sessions in which we talk about fiction, from the very broad to the very specifics. We talk about our own motivations for writing fiction. We talk about our intentions for our fiction, what do we want our fiction to do and to whom? And we talk about technique, how to achieve what we want to achieve with our fiction. We also talk about the fiction that I ask you to read, and we talk about the fiction that I invite you to write. It’s a gathering of writers, all of us inevitably very different to each other, with different interests, but meeting on an equal footing. And each of us interested in writing fiction that is distinctively our own.

What will participants gain from the course?

So what I hope you’ll gain is a clearer idea of your own process, so that way in which you can get closer to writing a fiction that’s yours, that’s entirely yours – the type of fiction that could not be written by anybody else. And as well as improving your process, well, I’m also trying to bolster your confidence. Confidence comes and goes for every writer, but one good way of boosting it is to try and have a better understanding of what it is you’re doing, what it is you want to do, and the gap between the two. And importantly, to be in the company of other writers who understand that as well and who know what you’re talking about.

What writers will we read on the course?

The list of writers I ask students to read during the course … Well, it changes with every iteration of the course, actually. I try and keep it pretty contemporary if I can, though there are some perennials who’ve been around for along time, so the last time out we read fiction by people like Wendy Erskine, Zadie Smith, Percival Everett, Mariana Enríquez, Chekhov, Gary Indiana, Denis Johnson, Olga Tokarczuk, Clarice Lispector, the list goes on. There is no shortage of great writers, no shortage of great fiction. Some of these are bound to be on the upcoming course as well. But there will also, I’m sure, be a few new people, a few new surprises.

Will I have to share my work in class?

You don’t have to share your writing on the course with the other writers. You don’t have to do anything on the course. The idea of the course is that we do, and you do, what is most useful to you in terms of improving, of developing your process. I find that for most writers, for a lot of writers, certainly, writing and sharing that writing with the other writers is very useful to them. But if that’s not useful for you, if you experience the idea of that as a kind of pressure or something, then that’s absolutely fine. We do what’s most useful for you. And that’s kind of the only rule.

Who is the course most suitable for?

So the course is not aimed at beginners, but beginners will feel right at home. And it’s not aimed at experienced writers either, but they will also feel right at home. It’s aimed at any writer at any level of experience who seeks to write better fiction. And that’s who it’s suitable for. If you’re already any writing fiction that you are 100% satisfied with, then this course is not for you. Everyone else, however, is very welcome.

What advice do you have for writers who are feeling stuck with their fiction?

Well, feeling stuck is for most writers, most of the time, the dominant feeling in writing. Writing is figuring out in all sorts of different ways. And whether the stuckness that you feel, whether it’s problem on the page or in your head or something else that you have no control over whatsoever, it is the feeling of being a writer. And it can be very useful. The nature of the stuckness, the thing that has you stuck can be very useful in itself. So never worry about being stuck, about feeling stuck, and certainly never think that it means that you’re finished. It doesn’t – it means that you’re writing.

Keith Ridgway is the tutor on Writing Fiction, which begins on 3 October 2023. More details on the course and how to apply can be found here.

Keith is the author most recently of A Shock (Picador, New Directions, 2021), which was the winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize.

 

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