To Form a Community of Writers

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.


  1. Roy Bentley on August 7, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I love the trust you tend like a piece of new-tilled ground, Lee. The advice you pass my way is always overshadowed by the way you deliver it: with kindness and a level of caring that fills in where words fail us and we fail ourselves.

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Roy!

  2. Linda Kass on August 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

    The affirmation and inclusiveness of your teaching and ongoing mentorship to all writers is extraordinary, Lee. Thank you for being a community builder for writers and for your guidance over the years!

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you, Linda! I’m so glad we’ve been able to work together on so many things that have contributed to the literary arts in Columbus

  3. Kate Cone on August 7, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Oh, this is lovely, Lee! I am writing this looking at my VCFA name tag from 2012 hanging on my wall. I’m so sad that I let another summer go by without saving up the money to go. It’s on my calendar right now! And I will pre-order your book. Have a great time in Montpelier, and I’ll see you next year.

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks for pre-ordering the book, Kate! Until we meet again. . .

  4. Deron Larson on August 7, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Life-long apprenticeship is what I serve, thanks to you, Lee. But I only work of Sunday.

    Writing is not Christian, but by it’s nature religious.

    Thanks for “God willing and the crick don’t rise” and all the other power you pay forward with words. You show it all in just the right light.

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks, Deron!

  5. Evelyn Krieger on August 7, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I love the idea of writing as a “life-long apprenticeship”. We are never done learning and never “there”. I wish I could take your course, but look forward to reading your book, Lee.

  6. Evelyn Krieger on August 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I love the idea of writing as a “life-long apprenticeship”. We are never done learning and never “there”. I wish I could take your course, but look forward to reading your new book, Lee.

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks, Evelyn!

  7. Sharee Chapman on August 7, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for these writing words of wisdom–life long apprenticeship, indeed. I will pre-order your book because I appreciate these blog posts and always get a lot out of them.

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Thank you, Sharee!

  8. Maureen on August 8, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Would there be an e-book version of your book? For those of us outside the United States?

    • Lee Martin on August 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Maureen, I’m afraid I can’t find any evidence of an e-version.

  9. Stuart Rose on August 18, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Lee, I actually have your book in my hand right now.
    I went on to Amazon to pre-order it and saw that there was no mention of pre-ordering it, but the usual instructions about making a purchase. There’s probably some mistake, I thought, expecting a “sorry, you’ll have to hold your horses until October” e-mail from Amazon. And then it arrived on Wednesday.
    Strange- and quite welcome.

    • Lee Martin on August 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Stuart, thanks so much for ordering my book. I was surprised when I learned that they were sending it out so early. I hope it proves useful to you. All best wishes–Lee

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