Thanks to Candelin Wahl, here we have a photo from our recent songwriting workshop. It’s a regular offering at the BWW, one Thursday a month, and proof that the BWW is a big tent, capable of providing space to creative types of all kinds.
If you thought that sentence sounded like the prelude to a pitch, you would be correct. This songwriting workshop–and all of our Burlington workshops–happen around this table, in a space that costs money to rent.
We don’t charge a fee, but the BWW leadership team ask folks like you to chip in a few bucks from time to time to support the mission of the BWW, which is to provide free learning opportunities for writers like you. If you’d like to give a certain amount each month (let’s say $6 or $12) you can become a sustaining member here.
We hope you will. Automatic gifts like yours provide a stable base of support for the expenses that come with running this nonprofit organization.
We’ve got more opportunities and a big announcement to make, so please do check out this week’s opportunities and announcements.
Author Jensen Beach.
Thanks to a grant from Burlington City Arts, we’re offering three workshops in November with Jensen Beach, award-winning author of the collection of short stories, Swallowed by the Cold. Sign up for one of these workshops using the links below. They’re all free and open to the public.
(If you’re new to the BWW, please read this helpful guide on how to get started.)
Jensen Beach is the author of two story collections, most recently SWALLOWED BY THE COLD (Graywolf). He holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as an MA and BA in English from Stockholm University. He teaches in the BFA program at Johnson State College, where he is the fiction editor at Green Mountains Review. His writing has appeared recently in A Public Space, the Paris Review, and The New Yorker.
These workshops were made possible in part with support from the Burlington City Arts Community Fund.
Three down, one left.
Our free writing retreats have been a success so far this year. On the weekend of September 18th, Vermont poet Baron Wormser led a day-long retreat in Adamant, Vermont. Candelin Wahl, one of the participants, said, “The workshop was great! Engaged participants, very strong leader/teacher in Baron Wormser, amazing location & a restaurant-quality potluck lunch.”
We’ve got one more free writing retreat left. You can learn more about it and put your name in the hat for the lottery here.
There’s more to discover in this week’s opportunities and announcements, so read on!
Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief, Mud Season Review
Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief of Mud Season Review, is getting ready to step down from her post. We’re so glad that she was able to spend a year (1) publishing great online and print issues and (2) facilitating the learning experience that MSR provides to Vermont’s aspiring writers. Lauren, we can’t thank you enough for your stellar work!
Lauren’s going to be working with her replacement to ease the transition to new leadership, which should be in place no later than October 31, 2017.
Who’s the new editor-in-chief? We don’t know yet, but we’d like you to apply for the job if you’re interested. Details on this and other opportunities for writers can be found in this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading
The second Burlington Writers Workshop retreat of the summer took place this past weekend. Fiction writer Robin McLean, author of the short story collection Reptile House, spent the day working with attendees. Here’s what a few folks who attended had to say about the retreat:
“The retreat was better than anything I’d imagined. Certainly the organization was admirable. The setting was amazingly beautiful and inspiring. The folks who attended (including our hosts) added so much to the experience; the generous participation, the bravery, and the food! Our instructor was so much more than that; a mentor, our guru, our spiritual leader; leading us to the hidden wells of inspiration and creativity tucked away in our unconscious minds; teaching us to banish the gatekeeper/censor and go forth like cowboys exploring deep caverns… wow.”
“I’d like to add my thanks to Riki and Rose for their great hospitality and for providing such a gorgeous setting. Thanks too to Robin for being such an inspiring workshop leader! Thanks finally to all the writers who shared their wonderful writings and commentary. I was so fired up that I rose early on Sunday morning and started working again on my novel.”
“Kudos for that magical day go to Riki and Robert [retreat hosts] for sharing creative space; to Wendy and Karin [retreat committee members] for their behind the scenes work; to everyone who opened their hearts and souls giving all of us the courage to go deeper; and to Robin for her careful and inspiring guidance in allowing us to find ourselves.”
The next BWW retreat will take place on September 16th. All our retreats are filled by lottery. This gives all writers an equal chance to attend. You can learn more and put your name in the hat by checking out this page.
Learn more about what’s happening for writers in Vermont in the coming weeks in these opportunities and announcements.
At our workshops, we’ll discuss anything. Last week, when I was leading a workshop, we were discussing the trials of entering the dating market when you’re over 60. (Dating, it was noted at the workshop table, is perilous at any age.)
One of our writers had written about a woman entering the dating market after her husband of 30 years passed away. The novel-in-progress generated quite a discussion. Beyond that, I can’t comment about what was said. Like they say about Las Vegas: What happens in workshop, stays in workshop.
But if you’d like to be privy to workshop conversations, there’s one thing you can do: sign up and claim your seat.
Learn more about this week’s opportunities and announcements.
The BWW held its first retreat of the season on July 15. These folks pictured here attended at the home of BWW Treasurer Terry Cleveland. These retreats are meant to help you get away from whatever happens to be distracting you from your work. If you’re interested in signing up for more of these retreats, please check out this page and see what we have to offer.
We’ve also got workshops aplenty, so sign up for a few when you have a chance. And check out this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading
A view of downtown Burlington, Vermont on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.
For the first time in two years, I attended a Wednesday night writing workshop in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Wednesday night writing workshops are the longest running tradition at the Burlington Writers Workshop. Part of that tradition involves going out for drinks downtown after the discussion ends. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed the lively Wednesday night conversations and the chance to socialize with BWW members over a beer (or two).
Part of the fun for me, of course, was getting feedback on my latest short story. I was hoping to see this story in a new light and, as always, BWW members delivered. In the next few days, I’m going to get started on revisions. Thanks, fellow workshoppers!
If you’ve got a piece of writing you need to see through someone else’s eyes, we’ve got plenty of opportunities for you. Here are this week’s opportunities and announcements.
“A Ulysses Summer: Summer Literature Reading Group” is one of our most popular workshops this summer.
Lately a group of BWW members have been reading Ulysses by James Joyce together. Patrick Brownson leads the group, which counts 13 regular attendees plus a waitlist, meaning it’s one of the most popular things we’re offering this summer. As you can see, our workshop space is occupied by quite a few happy readers, one of whom owns a selfie stick.
This reading group is full, but you can still participate in other workshops, if you’d like. We’ve got plenty. We’ve also got four free writing retreats planned this year.
Check out this week’s opportunities and announcements. Continue reading
The pile of manuscripts on my desk. Providing feedback for these folks makes me a better writer.
I’ve been providing a lot of feedback to writers lately through Mud Season Review. It’s one of the ways we keep the journal funded, but for me, it’s also a writing exercise.
Let me explain. In the past month or so, I’ve read someone’s novel, an essay collection, and four short stories. For each of these I’ve written a 1,500-word analysis, and I’ve made an effort to write a response of some kind on every page of the manuscript. It’s the kind of feedback I hope we’re giving each other in BWW workshops.
Anyway, doing this has really changed how I write. I’m learning how to articulate how I’m feeling as I read, and perhaps more importantly, I’m learning what I don’t want to see in prose. I’m learning what frustrates me as a reader. When I sit down to write my own work, I’m much more conscious now of what pleases me most as a reader, and what would please my ideal reader.
This, I think, is one of the key things about the BWW’s service. We get feedback on our own work, which is helpful, but it’s important to remember that giving feedback is not a purely altruistic act. You get something from it, assuming you put serious thought into it.
This is just to say: We’ve got many opportunities for you to exercise the feedback muscle. Here are the latest opportunities and announcements.
If you’ve ever submitted your fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or artwork to a literary journal, you may have wondered: What’s it like to receive all these submissions? How do you decide what’s worthy of publication?
If you’d like to gain some experience choosing pieces for publication, we’ve got some opportunities for you on Mud Season Review.
Our volunteer staff members read submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork on a rolling basis using an online system called Submittable. It’s a fun, collaborative effort that results in a monthly publication of which the whole organization is justifiably proud.
We need folks who are living in the Burlington area or can easily commute to Burlington. Though most of this work can be done remotely, we do need editors to meet in person at our workshop space in Burlington from time to time to collaboratively make editorial and other decisions.
We have immediate openings for editors and readers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. If you’re interested, tell us by filling out our contact form describing your interest and a little about your background.
The May fundraiser has ended successfully. Thanks to everyone who helped us raise $5,157.57 (our goal was $5k). In all, 52 people made a donation. One person gave twice! The average gift was just over $99. Excluding gifts made in exchange for our manuscript review service (which we provide for gifts of $275 or more), the average gift was just over $62.
About that manuscript service: We offer to folks on the Mud Season Review mailing list a chance to have their book-length manuscript reviewed. Someone on the MSR staff reads the manuscript and comments on it, much like we do in our workshops. During this past fundraiser, nine people gave $275 for these manuscript reviews.
If you’re a BWW member and you have a book that needs the eyes of your fellow writers, we do not charge anything to schedule a two- or three-part workshop, to which we’ll invite a group of peers to read your manuscript in big chunks. If you’d like to take advantage of this option, please contact me.
Overall, though, this manuscript review service is a way attract out-of-state money to support what we do in Vermont. We’ve got a dedicated crew of MSR folks who read these books for our donors, and we’re happy to do it.
We’ve got other stuff to talk about this week. So here are the latest opportunities and announcements.
In less than a week, the Burlington Writers Workshop will turn eight years old. I’ll never lose my sense of amazement that we do, in fact, still exist, and that we’re as strong as we’ve ever been.
We are offering a ton of workshops this spring and summer. These workshops are designed to motivate you and give you some feedback that (we hope) will inspire you to revise whatever you’re working on. So take a moment to check out these opportunities and announcements and claim your seat at the table. Continue reading
Martin Bock (left) at a workshop at our space in Burlington.
Here’s a phrase you may have heard if you listen to public radio pledge drives: “It’s freely available, but it’s not free.”
Meaning: you listen to all the programming you want without paying a cent, but it does cost someone something. The folks who make the programming must be paid.
That’s kind of how the Burlington Writers Workshop operates, except we have no paid staff. You can use the workshop space whenever it’s open. You can attend as many workshops as you want (so long as there’s room at the table). You have an equal chance of attending our writing retreats (which are based on a random lottery, not on income). You can take advantage of our publishing opportunities through Mud Season Review and The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop series. You can even come to an event and eat all the food you want and we do not charge a dime.
But someone pays for all this. Chances are, next time you’re at a workshop at our Burlington space, someone sitting near you chipped in a few bucks to help pay the rent.
So I’m asking you now (as we do every May and December) to give a few bucks to the BWW.
Give because you once went to a workshop and had a good time and learned something. Give because the comments you received helped you revise a poem or an essay. Give because you made a friend at the workshop who changed your life.
Give because it’s freely available, but it isn’t truly free, and because you are the type of person who steps up and takes action. We can’t run this organization without you and your financial contributions.
Give now. $50 or $100 or whatever amount works for you. We’re trying to raise $5,000 before the end of May. With your help, we can!
MSR contributors Lori Lamothe (seated) and Alison Prine chat at the MSR booth at AWP in Washington, D.C.
By all accounts, AWP was a great success for Mud Season Review and the BWW. Yes, we sold books. Yes, we boosted our mailing list. We even took in a few bucks in donations. All that is great. But it’s also important to note that we’ve made connections with the writers who have helped Mud Season Review become what it is. That human connection is very important to us.
We’re looking to make connections with you at a variety of events happening in the coming months. Danielle is taking a well-deserved break this week, so I’m offering you these opportunities and announcements. Continue reading