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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Community of Writers at Squaw Valley

I just got my brochure for the summer writing workshop up at Squaw Valley. Just reading it made me excited. There are so many excellent writers, agents, and editors planning to attend.

On the fiction front, Elizabeth Rosner, Janet Fitch, Lynn Freed, Richard Ford, Bill Barich, James Houston, Mark Childress, Jerry Tervalon, Alice Sebold and Glen David Gold are planning to lead seminars.

The non-fiction writers include Anthony Swofford, Martin J. Smith and Rick Wartzman.

Michael Pietsch, from Little, Brown and Company will be there, as will Ann Close from Knopf, and Ann Patty of Harcourt Books. The agents include Michael Carlise of Inkwell Management, Henry Dunow of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, and Randi Murray.

The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley was started more than 30 years ago by the novelist Oakley Hall. Now his daughter Brett Hall Jones (who is married to novelist Louis B. Jones) runs the various workshops. Another daughters, the novelist and playwright Sands Hall, teaches fiction. Other family members chip in to help. Most of the writers and editors and agents who come are long-time friends of the Halls, so the entire event feels like a family party. There’s no hierarchy – top publishers chat easily with unpublished writers – and then spoof themselves at a final talent show.

I applied on a lark about three years ago. It was an amazing week. The setting in the Sierra is spectacular and the critiques I got in the workshops were wonderful. The experience led to the whole shebang – agent, publisher, etc.

I highly encourage aspiring authors to apply. There is a lot of talk in the writing world about the benefit of MA programs and writing workshops. They are criticized for creating automatons, writers who sound alike. I can’t speak to the former but I can about the latter. Where else do you get to immerse yourself in a world of words and meet people who are as nerdy as you and revel in talking about voice, pacing, characterizations, selling your book?

I didn’t attend the workshop last year. But I dropped in for two days to hear the free afternoon lectures. I may have to repeat the trip.

1 comment:

bookfraud said...

i've heard amazing things about squaw valley; both my wife and i want to go. it always seems to get put on the back burner in the summer, which really is no excuse.