Opportunities & Announcements: August 7, 2018

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The value of a strong writers’ community

A testimonial from Cathy Beaudoin,
past BWW board treasurer and Mud Season Review fiction reader and forever member

Cathy Beaudoin and her service dog, Winnie, in their new home in California

In 2014, I began attending the Burlington Writers Workshop in earnest. At the time, I couldn’t possibly understand how the depth of the community would have such a positive impact on my development as a writer. The first workshops I attended were held in the basement of the Half Lounge, and it was nearly impossible to hear anything anyone said.  But the beer flowed and the people I met at those sessions kept me coming back for more. In fact, some of those people are still good friends.

As the vision of the organization began to evolve, the group started meeting in a dedicated space on Pine Street. More people got involved, and the breadth of workshops and other writing opportunities expanded. In addition to new and varied workshops, and an annual anthology highlighting selected member writing, a literary journal as well as a robust, and literary-focused, book club were started. The organization moved, and then moved again. Still, with so many motivated artists around me, I finally succumbed to a lifelong desire, and began to write. In the beginning, my writing was mostly nonfiction. I wanted to document my journey as a blind woman. After all, it was my area of expertise. The topic was unique, and the resources to learn how to write a story were at my fingertips. I had no more excuses.

Like most beginning writers, my prose was raw, choppy, unpolished, and difficult to follow. But the creative nonfiction community was patient with me, and provided endless encouragement. With all the feedback, I learned a truly valuable lesson: people were interested in what I was writing. It was just a matter of writing, re-writing, and writing some more. I learned that writing a beautiful sentence did equate to writing a story with a beginning hook, a strong middle section, and a meaningful ending. The value of having a group of people willing to read and give feedback cannot be measured. There is no way I would have ever progressed to writing better nonfiction, and ultimately fiction stories, without the nurturing of the BWW community.

Ultimately, because of workshops offered by BWW leaders, and outside writers like Robin McLean, Jensen Beach, and others, I felt like being a decent writer might be within my grasp.  And two stories that I initially presented at BWW workshops have since been accepted for publication, one in the literary journal titled Five on the Fifth, and the other in a yet to be titled anthology of short stories highlighting the successes of blind people.  I have three fiction stories that are complete, and am working on a fourth. My fiction story, “Gaining Momentum” has been accepted by Scarlett Leaf Review.

Because the BWW was such a valuable resource for me, I tried to give back to the community, working hard behind the scenes to prepare monthly financial and operating reports.  While a life decision led me to move from the Burlington area, I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude to the BWW community.  It is an incredible opportunity for writers to get out of their heads, to measure their progress, to be motivated to write every day. While nothing is perfect for everyone, I know the BWW will always have a place in my heart.  And because of my deep connections with many of the people there, I will continue to support the organization in any way possible. I hope others are motivated to do the same.


Donate to the BWW by December 31 and see your gift matched!

If you’d like to help make sure this community can keep offering support to beginning writers, established writers, and everyone in between, please consider donating today. Any amount is deeply appreciated. And an anonymous donor has offer to match up to $250 of all new donations received through the end of the year. So help us turn $5 into $10, $25 into $50, or $50 into $100! Donate now >

 

The BWW changed my life

Deena Frankel, leader of the BWW oral storytelling workshop

Deena Frankel, leader of the BWW’s oral storytelling workshop

The BWW changed my life. Really.

I’d been to a bunch of workshops, but never submitted work, as I struggled to transition from the dry writing in my day job to creative nonfiction. Then one idle Thursday night, I went to an oral storytelling workshop for want of a better plan, and I went home with a draft of my first “Moth-style” story. This new medium turned a key in my creative life. I’ve been telling oral stories ever since AND for me those oral stories became the gateway to the writing I’d been striving for. [Editor’s note: To see how far Deena’s storytelling has taken her, come hear her weave her storytelling magic on the Flynn MainStage for The Vermont Moth GrandSLAM II, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 8:00 p.m.]

Workshopping member writing is surely the heart of the BWW—for writers and readers alike. But the BWW is so much more. A place of continuous learning about the art, craft, and business of storytelling in its many forms. A community of colleagues and friends. Rich opportunities to try on new professional roles, whether staffing Mud Season Review or The Best of the BWW, or leading a workshop.

And all for one low price of admission: nothing. But of course it isn’t really free; it’s just on the honor system. We may operate on a staff-less shoestring, but you’ve still got to buy the shoestring.

What we provide and produce together at BWW is quite an extraordinary feat of community. I feel honor bound to do my part for that community by donating my money, as well as my time. I hope you will too.

Deena Frankel, leader of the BWW’s oral storytelling workshop, design editor of The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2016, and senior nonfiction reader for Mud Season Review

**Become a sustaining member at $12/month or a one-time donation of $150 and we’ll thank you with a pair of BWW pint glasses! Donate now >

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of July 7, 2014

The financial advisory committee met last week and, among other things, we’ve decided that Cathy Beaudoin will be our volunteer accountant. Cathy is an Assistant Professor at The University of Vermont School of Business. She’s taken the records I’ve been keeping and whipped them into professional shape. If you’d like to receive a copy of the balance sheet, please sign up for our email list.I’ll send it later this week.

Here are the opportunities and announcements for this week. Continue reading

Seven Days Reviews “Best of 2014”

SevenDaysBookReviewSeven Days has given The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2014 a favorable review. Margot Harrison, who has written about the BWW before, has mentioned several of the folks published in this new collection. For example, of Hillary Read’s story “Soon,” she writes: “It’s the sort of tale that in the wrong hands can easily turn maudlin, but Read makes it alternately transcendent and quietly devastating.” Continue reading

BWW Member Fiction Published in Seven Days

michaelfreedthall

Author Michael Freed-Thall

Burlington Writers Workshop member Michael Freed-Thall’s piece, “Fort Stockton Blues,” appears in Seven Days this week. Many workshop members will remember earlier versions of this story, in which the main characters were male. Michael worked hard to get this story right, and as you can see, he nailed it.

Congratulations to Michael for a job well done!