Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Summer Writers' Conference at Northwestern University! by DL Larson

Every year I receive in the mail an invitation to attend the Summer Writers' Confrence at Northwestern University, in Evanston IL. Every year I dream of going, sitting in small group workshops and honing my writing skills.

As a writer, I receive many such invitations, I imagine you do too. The ones I think will benefit my writing I try to attend, the others go into the recycle bin. But every year this cardstock flyer sits on my kitchen counter for weeks. Usually when the deadline has come and gone I finally throw it away. But this year, this year I promised I would attend more conferences. And this is one I really want to be a part of. They are offering a workshop and critique on children's books. I could take Mama Turtle's Hidden Treasure. I've never been a part of a children's writing group or workshop. I could learn so much.

So what's holding me back? Well, the cost is steep, I think extremely steep, twice as much as other conferences. The Historical Novel Society Conference I will be leaving for on Friday is in the $300 range for a Friday-Sunday, with banquets included. The hotel room is a special rate of $120/night. Plus I will be having a book signing! In a nutshell, it's worth every dime I'm spending.

The Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference is actually packed with more workshops in the three day sessions, but it feels more costly being in the $600+ range, plus another $125 for a 15 page critique of ones work. (optional of course) Room and board are additional in costs.

So, I'm asking if anyone has attended the Summer Conference at Northwestern and what did you gain from your experience? I'm interested in hearing about the atmosphere, is this a friendly place to learn? Are the instructors productive in the workshops or is this a platform to promote their own works?

I don't mean to sound cynical, but working at an university for eleven years, I've attended my share of workshops where learning was a by-product and not a focal point. I'm excited, edgy at the possiblity I might actually make it to this event. But I don't want to go into this blindly. Any input you have on this conference would help those of us who wonder what it's all about.

So come on, share with us please. What is the Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference all about? Is there good networking? Great instructors? Wonderful classes?

I just gotta know! I've got my checkbook out, no wait, my credit card! I'm ready to sign on the dotted line ... I'm ready to commit three days of my summer. Will it be worth it?

Tell me, please!

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Rob Walker said...

Deb = Oh sure you could get a lot out of NUs summer writing program but agreed the cost is way over the top, as is the case with many such programs around the country. When I was a student at NU they had NOTHING like this summer program...such programs blossomed all over the country when it became apparent that there was money to be made. When I was in college there was like one program and that was the Iowa program where David Morrell taught among others. So no doubt you could be working with some great professors, but there is an alternative maybe if Jay Bonasinga is still offering his class thru Twilight Tales. Jay teaches film writing and fiction for NUs adult education program, but he also offers a great and wonderful crash course in fiction writing thru Twilight Tales...if he is still doing this. Twilight Tales contact info ought to be easy to find as they are a tradition in Chicago. I used to drop in on their open mic nights when I lived in Chicago. At any rate, it is a great thing to work with Jay, who has published both novels and film and plays. And a lot cheaper! I like Jay because he and I agree about one hundred percent on how to teach writing. Another suggestion is to work with moi as I work one-on-one and your MS is the class material. This would of course be online.
This is my Write to Sell class. You submit 30 pages and we discuss it in detail about what is working and what may not be working. 3 bucks a page. After which, if you wish to continue on through the MS, we go onward and upward. But again Jay comes highly recommended as does Twilight Tales.


Deb Larson said...

I was expecting to hear something along these lines - but wanted to know for sure. Thanks for the offer on your class - I will keep that in mind.
DL Larson