I’m off to teach at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Workshop. If you’re ever in the market for a summer writers’ conference, I highly recommend this one. It’s all about the craft! No agents, no editors, and none of that toxic atmosphere of “who’s made it, and what do I have to do to make it, too.” No, “Look at me, please!” No anguish or despair. Just a lot of talk about writing.
The workshop size is small—I have six in my novel workshop—and the spirit is collegial. We’re all there to not only make ourselves better writers but also to help one another along our various paths. The faculty members are all accessible. No social or professional hierarchy here. Everyone together at craft talks, readings, workshops, social events, and in the dining hall. Plus, each workshop participant gets a forty-five minute or so individual conference with the instructor.
Although a number of the participants already have their MFAs, not all of them do. Good work can find a place at the table, MFA or not. There are also some scholarships available. It’s a wonderful week at “Writing Camp.”
When I began this blog, I did so with the idea of talking about what I know about writing, what I don’t know, and what I’m curious to explore. I wanted it to be a place where anyone could visit and feel a part of the conversation. I wanted everyone to feel welcome no matter the level of their ability or experience. I wanted everyone to feel free to ask questions and to make comments with comfort. It’s the same thing I want for my workshop in Vermont and for every writing workshop I teach. I want to do everything I can to form a community of writers engaged in the common goal of helping one another along their writing journeys.
I’ll be traveling back home next Sunday—God willing and the crick don’t rise, as my ancestors always said—so I may not have a post on August 14. I may just take a week off before classes begin here at Ohio State on August 22. Just a week off to reflect on the summer and to prepare myself for the semester to come. Or, who knows, maybe I won’t be able to resist being a part of the conversation for even that one week. We’ll see.
I’ve always said that writing is a life-long apprenticeship, and part of that process is the ongoing conversation among people of like interest. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing in Vermont, and with my students at Ohio State, and with you here on this blog, and in my craft book, Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life, which will be out on October 1. It’s available for pre-order now on Amazon and from the publisher, The University of Nebraska Press. It’s a book about the technique of telling stories, both fictional and true, and it’s also meant to pass along what I hope will be some useful information about inhabiting the writing life with acceptance and perseverance. We all have our individual journeys to make and success comes at its own speed. But what a glorious way to spend our time, yes? Moving those words around on the page, speaking from our hearts.