Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Founders Workshops: Worth the flight

Guest blogger alert!

Fresh from the laptop of Joni Sensel, our fantastic Regional Advisor emeritus, currently our Published Member Liaison, and a YA fantasy author:

 Since we have a post just below about opportunities at the Highlights Founders' Workshops, and I just came home from one, I thought I'd do a little raving in case any of you are on the brink.

I've been aware of these workshops for years, but they sounded so far away -- that airfare thing -- that I always figured the many educational ops on the West Coast were just as good and much closer.


Having been now to a couple Founders' Workshops this summer, one as a participant and one as a sort of assistant, I'm here to tell you that if you can afford them (they're not cheap, even if you have frequent flier miles or the like, but see bullet #4, below), the two I've been to, at least, are probably the best writing workshops I've been to in something like 15 years. I'm sure there are variety and quality differences based on the topic and the faculty, but what at least some of them offer that's unusual includes:

  • A more intimate, focused opportunity to work with a mentor on your own work than any you'll get short of an MFA program. I can especially recommend the "Heart of..." and Whole Novel workshops.
  • More focus on craft and intent and less on marketing than most other opportunities I'm aware of or have tried (or, uh, planned, as part of the SCBWI WWA team). Both have their place, but creative nurturing (minus sales concerns) can be a very good thing at different places in your creative career.
  • As a result, a bigger leap in participant skill in a few days or a week than I think is typical.
  • A lot of scholarship money that they don't talk about much but that could help you afford it, even if you think you can't.
  • A really terrific venue and housing in a beautiful location. Oh, and food to die for; it's famous.
  • A leg up later if you're interested in submitting to either Boyds Mills Press or Highlights.

I won't blather on, but I'd be happy to talk about more details and specifics if anyone wants to leave questions in comments or email me; most of you know where to find me. :) So if you've been drooling on their course list for this fall or next year, consider taking the plunge!

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