Monday, July 9, 2012
August in Vermont
Ten days of intense education. New tools to put in my belt for when I need to figure out an ending to the next chapter. New ideas to help coax the creative juices to flow on a dry day. New eyes with which to observe and to read. These are just a few of the things I hope to gain from attending the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference this coming summer. Just over a year ago, I walked into my first writer’s conference, armed with a love of written words and the first pages of a memoir. Something that began as a collection of jumbled accounts of the loss of my sister in a violent tragedy. Just words, tumbled loosely onto the pages. Over the past year, and three writer’s conferences, I’ve learned to craft story. And I’ve begun to turn my own story into what I hope will ultimately be a compelling and honest account of sibling loss and discovery. This past January, my conference submission, the opening of my memoir-in-progress, Me Without You, was awarded “Best Of” honors for the non-fiction division of Writer’s in Paradise, 2012.
It is my understanding from conversations with other writers and faculty advisors, that a chance to attend Bread Loaf is the ultimate opportunity to learn about both the craft of writing and about myself as a writer in a conference setting. In my previous conference experiences I’ve discovered the unquestionable value of spending time in the company of aspiring and accomplished writers. I found that what I discovered through my undergraduate and graduate degrees still holds true – that I am a scholar at heart. That learning is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do. And I have much to learn. Though writing is often a solitary activity, the lessons and critiques that come from workshops are the building blocks I’ve been able to take back into my quiet spaces to create something better than what came before.
My goal is to have a draft of my memoir manuscript by the time Bread Loaf rolls around in late summer. I expect it will need serious work. And I will need some new tools. I would love the opportunity to continue to work with Ann Hood, who has shepherded me through prior workshops with both brutal honesty and encouragement. I welcome the chance to work with other faculty members and authors. Every teacher brings a fresh perspective and sometimes that’s just what you need. I would expect that during ten days in the Green Mountain National Forest, among the memories of noted authors past, the words of esteemed faculty and the ideas of a future generation of great writers, I would learn to be a better master of my pen. I would forge friendships that will last a lifetime. I would make mistakes. I would experience triumph. I would work hard and I would walk away changed. Intense education, indeed.