I wrote a piece for AWP on what to do after the conference
to keep your writing energy alive. Though the tips are tailored to AWP, there
are ideas you can carry forward after any writing conference:
I copy the most inspiring remarks
on pieces of paper that I tuck in odd spots—random books, a summer
purse—assuming I’ll find them months later and feel re-inspired….
If you haven't already seen this from my link on Facebook...
Here’s a wonderful article from poet Liz Ahl’s blog about how to set up
your own writing residency with a group of your writing buddies:
A writing retreat is not a writing workshop. It is not a
meeting with the Great Visiting Writer Guru. It is not a series of Craft Talks.
It’s a retreat. Not only from the job and the errands and the family dynamics
and the daily worries and the porch roof that needs fixing and the job and the
junk mail and the world . . . . but also from performance anxiety and
productivity measures. You look forward to it because this time is yours to use
as you see fit: reading, meditating, walking, staring at a bug on the wall,
scribbling in your notebooks, revising the same poem twenty zillion times,
trying new kinds of writing, preparing manuscripts, taking manuscripts apart,
sending stuff out, setting your poems to music, researching obscure details,
writing, not writing, changing your mind. And sharing– yes, that, too– but only
as much as you want or are ready for when and how YOU decide. The group
provides company without breathing down your neck. You are both alone and not
alone. What could be better?
I’m in love with this article about how to publish a
collection of short stories in 12 steps. (Obviously, some of the steps are
giant steps, as we used to say.) But author Liz Prato
breaks down the process
in a smart, sensible way.
1. I decided to
learn how to write short stories. Originally, I thought I should write and
publish short stories to later help get my novel published. I enrolled in
classes in the craft of short fiction, at which point it became clear that I
didn’t even read short stories, and that I would need to, if I was going to be
any good at this.
Tip: Consume short fiction, even the kind you think you
don’t like. Learn how stories work and why they work....
I am shamelessly cut-and-pasting (with permission) this
wonderful blog post by one of the Converse low-res MFA grads from the fiction
program. Rhonda Browning White
writes her own blog Read. Write.
Live! and when I saw this post, I fell victim to Rhonda’s enthusiasm and knew
I wouldn’t be able to contain myself to an excerpt.
(For more about Rhonda, head over to this
blog post where I brag on a story she got published that was part of her
Anyway, here’s what she had to say about her experience
studying at Converse, followed by information about an Open House for the
program on May 31, that is open to the public. (And if you can’t get yourself to
Spartanburg but you’re interested, definitely email or call the program
director, Rick Mulkey. He would love to talk to you and see if we’re a good fit
for your writing goals. Contact info here: www.converse.edu/mfa.)
THINKING ABOUT AN MFA
IN CREATIVE WRITING? START HERE!
It’s no secret that graduates (like myself) of Converse
College’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program like to brag about our
experience in the program. Truly, it’s nothing short of life-changing.
What makes the Converse MFA program so special? It’s the
award-winning, bestselling core faculty. It’s the I-can’t-believe-it’s-her/him
visiting authors. It’s the one-on-one time with faculty mentors during the
semester, and the ongoing relationships you have with them long after
graduation. It’s the priceless opportunities to share your work with agents and
editors and receive immediate feedback. It’s the breakfasts, lunches, dinners,
and drinks you’ll share with faculty and classmates who quickly become your
forever friends. It’s the chill bumps that race across your skin when you
finally get that line just right. It’s knowing that, even after you’ve turned in
your final thesis, celebrated your graduation, and hung that beautiful diploma
on your wall, you still have a community of writers to turn to for advice, for
inspiration, for celebration.
Sound like the perfect place for you? Then check it out in
person. Below you’ll find an article about The Converse College Low-Residency
MFA in Creative Writing OPEN HOUSE. Trust me when I tell you it’s worth the
trip to meet faculty, students, and alums who can answer your questions and
show you just how incredibly special this program really is.
S.C.’s Only Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing to Hold
Open House May 31
Spartanburg, S.C. — Discover why Publishers Weekly named the
Converse College Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing “a program to watch” in
2015. Join us at our Open House information session on May 31, 2015 from
6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Barnet Room of the Montgomery Student Center on the
Meet current students, published alumni, and faculty,
including Robert Olmstead, Denise Duhamel, Marlin Barton, Leslie Pietrzyk,
Susan Tekulve, Albert Goldbarth, C. Michael Curtis, Suzanne Cleary, and program
director Rick Mulkey. Learn about the program’s new concentrations in Young
Adult Fiction and Environmental Writing, plus scholarship and Teaching Assistantship
opportunities, along with information on recent alumni successes in fiction,
poetry and nonfiction. Then stay to mingle with current students who are on
campus for their summer residency, enjoying live music with Nashville-based
folk rock band The Hart Strings beginning at 8 p.m.
About the Converse College Low-Residency MFA
As South Carolina’s only low residency MFA program in
creative writing, the Converse College MFA offers students opportunities to
focus in fiction, Y.A. fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and Environmental writing,
plus opportunities to pursue internships in publishing and editing through our
C. Michael Curtis Publishing Fellowship at Hub City Press. MFA students may
also participate in editing opportunities with the program’s national online
literary magazine, South 85 Journal, and pursue teaching opportunities with our
Teaching Assistant program, a unique opportunity for low residency students.
“One of the strengths of a low-residency format is how it
introduces students to the real writing life,” said program director Rick
Mulkey. “Most writers have family and career obligations in addition to their
writing. While students spend part of each academic year on the Converse campus
during the residencies, they continue work on their writing and academic
projects during the rest of the year without disruption from their family and
career. Plus they study in a true
mentor/apprentice relationship with a gifted writer. It provides both an
intensive learning environment and the flexibility that most of us need.”
Converse MFA faculty members include National Book Critic
Circle Award winners, best-selling novelists, award winning short fiction
writers and essayists, plus some of the top editors in the country. “In
addition to being outstanding writers, our faculty are energetic and dedicated
teachers who have been honored for their classroom instruction,” said Mulkey.
“In some graduate programs, a student enrolls to discover that the writer she
planned to work with only teaches one course a year, or is on leave while the
student is in the program. Here you have the opportunity to work with a large
number of writers, editors and agents in a very personal mentoring
In the last few years, Converse MFA graduates and current
students have distinguished themselves with honors and awards including the AWP
Intro Award, a Melbourne Independent Film Festival Award, and the South
Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize, among many others. In addition, they have
published work in a range of literary venues from Colorado Review, Shenandoah,
Ploughshares, and Southern Review to such noted publishers as William
Morrow/Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Negative Capability
Press, Finishing Line Press, and others.
I was thinking about writing up a report today on the goings-on at
Dairy Hollow, but then I realized I must dump the 20+ pages I spent the last
few days sweating over, and I’m excited at my new re-envisioning of the
material so my report is on hold for now—but look what showed up on Facebook!
This link to a blog post written by one of my residency-mates that beautifully
captures the spirit of this place:
I just returned from my fifth residency at The Writers’
Colony at Dairy Hollow, and I feel compelled to give my
testimony. Dairy Hollow is the place I write best. Edits are accomplished.
Ideas appear. Words flow straight out of my brain and onto my Mac while my
fingers move as though I’m playing a song on the piano. (Chopsticks, to be
specific, and we writers are all about specific.) After five visits, I
realize there are (at least) five reasons for this productivity. And
the reasons work together, a sum-of-the-parts sort of thing,
if you know what I mean…
DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.