Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Summer Conferences: Great Advice from a Reader

OBiB writes in with some great advice about summer conferences. This is in response to S3's previous question. And perhaps most importantly: this month's issue of Poets and Writers has a great guide to the conferences. Do pick it up at your local independent bookstore.

I just wanted to add two cents to the questions about summer
conferences... I don't know anything about the Napa Valley or Squaw
Valley writer's conferences, but I do have a bit of advice.

First of all, Studying Sleepaway Camp should pick up Writer's Market
or a similar resource. They're bound to list the conferences and
workshops, and generally list cost, number of people, acceptance rate
(if there's an application), etc. It's a great resource for more than
where to get things published.

Second of all, SSC should be aware of whether they want a conference
or a workshop and the difference between the two. Sometimes they mean
similar things and sometimes they do not. A conference may have
'workshops" but they may be structured more like lectures, where the
teacher/facilitator speaks about craft and writing, and discussion
follows, but if SSC is looking to get a lot of feedback on their work
or ideas for new work, conferences may not be the place. If, however,
SSC is just looking to meet a lot of people interested in writing,
conferences can be a good place to go.

Summer writing programs that are strictly workshops may offer the
personal attention SSC seems to be looking for. Workshops are
generally smaller and the intimate atmosphere is probably better for
wooing someone with your work who can write a reference.

I went to a conference last summer and will be going to a workshop
this summer, and while I had a great time at the conference my bet is
that for preparation for applications, the workshop will be more
helpful to SSC now, and the conference will be something fun to do
later in life. Either way, I suggest that SSC talk to as many people
as possible (and read resources other than the conferences' web sites)
and get the scoop on what is actually on the itinerary and what the
general atmosphere is like. Also I encourage SSC to apply soon if not
yesterday. Applications may not be due for a couple months, but
chances are, if the conference/workshop is good and/or is bringing in
a good faculty, it will fill up as soon as the faculty and dates are

I hope this is helpful for SSC.

Once Bumbling about in Boston, now Finding Friends at the FAWC This Summer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too was interested in finding a workshop or writers' conference or two last summer. This was before I decided, in January, to go for an MFA or MA in Creative Writing.
I really didn't know the difference between a workshop and a conference, but finally figured it out from their materials. I wanted, needed a short fiction workshop.
Thank goodness money was an issue, because it kept me close to home! Since I wanted to save $ I looked only for events that were driving distance.
I attended a workshop at UW-Madison for five days, and wrote a new short story, and my first query letter. Met some interesting people, and had fun. I'm returning this summer for the last time---I believe I might have "outgrown" it--before starting at my writing program this fall.
I will also be going to a writing workshop at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, driving distance from home, which sounds more demanding in tone.
I foolishly applied to the Sewanee Writers' Conference, but now realize I don't belong there.
I thought anyone could go, but now I know there is a rigid selection process.
Several people have told me it's for folks who are further along in their writing careers and need to schmooze w/publishers and agents, etc. to publish their manuscripts. I'm not there yet.
Anyway, I doubt I will get in.
Just wanted to let you know about my experience.