wayfarer (n) : a person who travels, especially by foot; vagabond
The goal of the Wayfarer Certification is to provide all the benefits of formal writing education to writers who are forging their own paths within our informal community of artists and dreamers.
MFAs, writing workshops, and other kinds of writing education have two purposes. First, they teach a person how to write. Or at least they try; last we heard, the jury was still out on whether it’s possible to teach someone how to write.
Their other function is to keep the gates of the publishing industry. Credentials from a known institution signal to slush readers, editors and agents that a writer has invested both time and money into their craft and their career.
The thing is, though, not everyone has time and money.
Maybe we have obligations to other humans, and we can’t take off for a traditional MFA in another state that incurs an enormous amount of student debt. Maybe we can’t even shell out for a week or two of an intensive writing workshop. Maybe we have physical limitations that mean the “intensive” model–long days, packed with demanding work in order to shorten the time taken away from real life–is beyond our capacity.
Maybe our voices are too weird to get us past the gatekeepers for these traditional schools. We’re too proletariat or queer or neuro-atypical or non-Western. Not only that, but maybe we’re not particularly interested in subjecting ourselves to a traditional academic environment that doesn’t support our distinctive voices and our unique creative expression.
Maybe all that is true, but we still want to challenge ourselves as writers, hone our voices, learn new techniques, and find companionship as we make our own creative and artistic statements and brave the wilds of finding an audience for our work.
We already know that we here at the North Seattle Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup Group can fulfill the first purpose of a writing education program. Our peer-to-peer critique groups are consistently rigorous, deeply insightful, and meet the education industry’s highest standards of dialogic pedagogy.
The Wayfarer Writing Certification is our attempt at addressing the second purpose.
This certification aims to honor the work that happens off the beaten path. Like the approach of a Ray Bradbury, a Ted Sturgeon, or a C. S. Moore, it is born of the individual writer’s dedication to writing, receiving feedback, and sharing their work with other writers. It is always 100% free, always 100% open to the public at all times, and always as accessible to people with disabilities and children and jobs with odd hours–as well as those who just don’t walk the traditional literary road–as our moderators can make it. We pride ourselves on our flexibility, our empathy, and our openness to people of all kinds. The only major barrier to access is that we’re in Seattle; you have to come to us.
Although this certification is accessible, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires your persistence, your thoughtful participation, and your unique perspective and audacity as a writer.
Come wander the wilderness with us.