Kellie Wells is the winner of the 2022 Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize. She is also the recipient of the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Richard Sullivan Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Fiction, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award for emerging women writers, and the Baltic Writing Residency. She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Blue Mountain Center, Château de Lavigny, and Hawthornden Castle. She is the author of four books: Compression Scars; Skin; Fat Girl, Terrestrial; and God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna. Her research and writing interests include Victorian spiritualism and stage acts, dystopian/apocalypse lit, speculative/fabulist/slipstream lit, disability and chronic illness in the Anthropocene/Symbiocene, fairy tales and folktales, and apocalyptic crones. She has three very wry dogs, teaches in the MFA program at the University of Alabama, and is a congenital Midwestern American.
Thoughts on Workshop: My approach to feedback and workshop discussion is, in large part, descriptive. In the course of the conversation and in my written comments, I illustrate for the writer how one reader has made sense of their work, point out the things I leaned on interpretively, and try to show the writer what led me to the reading I came away with. I describe how I see various craft elements operating and also offer general observations about the form the writer’s working in. Although I occasionally make pointed suggestions for revision, I’m generally not inclined to offer prescriptive feedback. Instead, I document one reader’s experience of the story/chapter, and the writer can think about how that experience does or does not align with their intentions (or what they know of their intentions at this moment), so that when they return to the work, they can make decisions about how to reimagine the parts of it they want to revise or how to move forward. It’s not that I think prescriptive feedback has no value; it’s just that my inclination as a reader is to go with the choices the writer has made and then think about how those choices accumulate into meaning for me as I read. Just as we all write differently, all members of a workshop have different dispositions as readers and critics, so I don’t expect fellow workshop members to respond to the work exactly as I do. However workshop members are inclined to engage with the work critically, so long as it’s respectful, is fine. The more variety there is in the way we read and analyze, the better for the writer. This is, to my way of thinking, one of the real virtues of a workshop—it can give the writer a prismatic view of their own work that will illuminate it in unexpected ways, throwing onto the wall patterns they might not even have realized were there.