Before I arrived at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, many had told me that Iowa City was a strange, different place. A place where writing and reading were not only normal but perhaps requisite. Living for two weeks at the University, going to workshop every day, reading some of the best work out there: all these opportunities have made me a more conscious writer. When my parents asked me how my writing improved at the Studio, I said that I began to ask myself questions I didn’t know I needed to ask when writing fiction. Questions like, Is this story believable? Are these characters’ motives true? These are the kind of deep and necessary questions my teachers, friends, and counselors asked of my stories. Awareness of this nuance in writing, an essential leap into the process of writing, was alone worth going. My teacher, Nick Dybek, was brilliant – pointing out critical elements of fiction I would have never learned without him. But IYWS gave me so much more. My time at Iowa was the best two weeks of my writing life. I felt encouraged and thrilled every day to be a writer, be a citizen of Iowa City. It’s so nice to be friends with writers. I’ve found my editors, my readers, and most importantly friends with whom I can complain about my plotless short stories. I’m at a loss for words (pretty often, actually) to describe how amazing, how absolutely life-altering my time in Iowa City was.
Jared Newman is a rising junior at Phillips Andover Academy. He lives in New York City. He attended Session 1 of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.