Monday, March 26, 2012

Camp for Writers (2012)

*Just in case you were in the mood to fill out MORE applications (at least it will be a distraction from checking your email umpteen times a day), I thought I would re-post my blog on summer writers conferences. Enjoy!*

Trust me, no one loves the solitude of writing more than I do. I crave small, dark rooms. I relish working alone and in silence. If it were possible to write in a vacuum, I would. But I know, and we all know, that we can't. We need other people, not only to read our writing, but to critique it, massage it, cajol it, and sometimes even like it. So we join writers' groups, or apply to MFA programs, or apply to writers conferences, all in hopes of finding that writerly community where our work, and our personalities, fit in.

So how many of you are considering (or are already planning to attend) a writers conference? I've been attending the same conference for nine years now, and I can't imagine a summer without it. *FULL DISCLOSURE - I work for the Southampton Arts Summer Conference, so yes, I'm biased.* Having said that, there are a lot of conferences in the country to choose from, so you'll need to figure out what you are looking for in a conference experience before you find the one that is right for you. Are you looking to study with a particular teacher? Are you looking for industry contacts/meet-and-greet opportunities? Are you looking for a friendly, fun atmosphere or a more competitive one? Are you looking at conferences that are sponsored by MFA programs that you would like to apply to next year? It's a good way to learn about a program without making a commitment. It also gives the program a chance to learn about you, which may help them when assessing your MFA application (and a letter of recommendation from a workshop leader never hurts either).

So what interests you about the conference experience? What would deter you? I'm more than happy to give advice based on my own conferencing adventures. Let the comments begin.

22 comments:

ldjulius said...

I recently got accepted to the Skidmore College Summer Writer's Institute and I'm absolutely excited about the opportunity. I'm also still waiting on a response from my last M.F.A. application to UNC-Greensboro. I got an email yesterday that said my app was still "being considered" and they would have a decision soon so that sounds promising. But to answer your question, I'm not really looking to study with any one particular teacher although Michael Ondaatje is making a visiting writer's appearance among several others so that will be an amazing opportunity. I really just enjoy the experience of workshops with fellow writers and giving other people the opportunity to react to my work and visa-verse. Skidmore doesn't have an M.F.A program, but there are several programs in New York that I'm certain are familiar with this particular summer program so I'm hoping at least if UNC-G falls through this will be a great experience moving into next years M.F.A applicant pool.

Mitya23 said...

I would love to do a summer writer's conference or retreat but they're all so expensive! Does anyone have any suggestions for inexpensive writer conferences, possibly in middle-America so as to avoid international travel costs? I'm more interested in a nice outdoor setting than in "big name" hosts. Suggestions?

Jennifer said...

Mitya23, check out the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

GG said...

Hi - I'm looking at Stony Brook Southampton and Sewanee for playwriting. I'd like to keep it under 2k, as I'm still waiting to hear from New School and Mason Gross about final decisions...and I could be paying for grad school next fall (I hope)!

Any other suggestions? I'm in NJ so anywhere on the East Coast is doable.

magNcheese said...

Has anyone ever been to Bread Loaf? I applied but I probably won't go unless I get a scholarship.

jackiejones2000 said...

magNcheese - I attended two summers with BreadLoaf - once in Alaska before the Juneau campus was discontinued - and once in New Mexico. The classes I took were for Lit, not writing, but the atmosphere was fantastic and the teachers were all wonderful. Highly recommend it!

Tree#1 said...

Can anybody recommend some fcition programs in the Southeast, specifically NC? I'm interested in programs during the year, too. I'm just looking for a way to keep getting feedback and improving in my year off (no acceptances this time) before I reapply for MFAs.

Tree#1 said...

fiction*

Sally Jane said...

Tree#1: Yes, keep writing and improving and try again next year! A student at Columbia's MFA contacted me with info about a site called www.writersbloq.com - maybe you will find that helpful?

JusAddWalter said...

I am looking for an MFA program that does not rely heavily upon the workshop setting, but instead allows me more one-on-one time with my professor, so that I can hear a professionals thoughts, and not the (potentially) biased opinions of my peers. (I sound like the kid who never got a good critique), but putting that aside, does anyone have any suggestions of schools that could fit such requirements? Much appreciated.

radio said...

@JusAddWalter maybe u should look into some low-residency programs. it sounds like this would be the best fit for u.

JDEvans said...

Light House writers workshop is great! I have done a class during the year and was accepted into their first juried workshop (3 total) during their Lit Week in June. They also offer a retreat in Grand Lake, CO. It is a beautiful place and with three MFA programs, an MA, and a Ph D. In the area the instructors are highly respectable. Also it is not insanely priced (especially if local, of course).

JDEvans said...

Tree...
UNC-W is a great program. I received my undergrad in professional and creative writing and editing from them before they offered an MFA. It is the same faculty and the program is incredibly innovative. Also Wilmington is a great little city surrounded by beaches
Also check out: South Carolina, Florida State, Mississippi (in Oxford), Vanderbilt (Nashville), Alabama, and Georgia State
Many more are good and great but I have researched the ones above and like them (I am applying next year to MFA programs and am targeting the south and west)
Good luck! Hope this helps

radio said...

UGH! I just called the Southampton Arts Summer Workshop and they said Jay McInerney won't be teaching as planned. I really wanted to take a workshop with him, and also he was the only one teaching fiction in the first (shorter) session, which was the only session I could afford.

Dylan Howley said...
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Dylan Howley said...
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ivebeenaround said...

Im currently at a workshop I don't like. Could you reccomend one that is writing intensive? I want to be pushed to write day and night.

Also one with a diversity of ages would be great.

I know it's late in the season, but I really need to get my writing going. I need pressure.

Thanks

seoinheritx said...

I am in love with books and really crazy to draft and write a book

Katie McGinnis said...

What do people here think about writers' conferences, in general? I've never been to one, personally. I know I'll crash AWP the next two years because it will be subsidized, but are the plane tickets and expenditures worth it?

http://katiemcginnis.wordpress.com

Special K said...

Does anyone know about writer's conferences that offer scholarships for students to attend? I would love to go but am using my extra cash to apply/hopefully visit schools this spring. Also I'm CNF if it makes a difference.

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