January 19th, 2009


Casco Bay Writers Workshop?

So, ever since the idea of moving to Maine surfaced, I've had a growing idea that I wanted to start a writers' workshop there. We live on a beautiful, rocky island with a lovely hotel, a crashing sea, lots of hiking trails, and Portland just nearby. It's perfect, inspiring and quiet and unique.

I want to do it, for real, and soon. megmccarron and I were talking about the need for a kind of intermediate workshop, something not quite for beginners like Clarion, but not the closed must-have-novel workshops, either. For people who have a few publications, whether novels or short stories, under their belt, but are still looking for their path and their voice.

I love to teach, I feel like I have a lot of ideas and a lot to give to this community that has given so much to me. I never attended workshops as a young writer, and I would like to create the one I would have wanted. I loved Rio Hondo and Blue Heaven, and of course I'd love to teach at Clarion or Odyssey, but I also want to share my home with the writers I know, to take everyone in like a big black-haired mother hen. I want to create something new, something special, a magical bubble of literary shazzam.

These are the sketches of plans I have.

The workshop would be in the off-season, in the spring or the fall, because we get stellar islander rates at the local hotel. Guest lecturers would stay with us at our house, students in the huge oceanview suites of the Peaks Island Inn. We've already asked about meals, and the pub below would provide a package deal with one or two meals a day (spectacular food). Dinners would be cooked by me and served at the house. About half the day would be devoted to compostion with prompts and various experiments and locations to work in. A portion of the evening would be spent in critique, a portion in discussion of literary topics, and everything would be sprinkled with liberal trips to the bar and hiking and fishing. I'd want to have little graduation amulets made for the participants, and fill it with ritual as well as work, creation as well as critique.

I would want to have about 4-6 invitation-only slots and 2-4 submission-slots, to have a good combination of people who are known awesomes and unknowns who need a chance to learn and grow. Depending on the desires of each group, we could focus on either novels or short stories. It would be a 9-day workshop, weekend to weekend.

I deeply want to do this. I want to feed everyone with words and food and worlds.

I need your help. I need established-author guest lecturers to visit for a day or two, I need people who are interested in attending, people who are interested in helping with the organizing. I'd like to make this happen in either September this year or April next year.

Does this sound like a good idea? Would you want to be involved?

I'm turning this over to the floor. Hit me with ideas, with yays or nays, with advice, with warnings, with delight, with horror, whatever. Nothing amazing ever happened by not talking about it.

And it probably needs a better name than Casco Bay Writers Workshop.
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