Those accepted into this intensive will have the opportunity to have their 5-10 page short story critiqued by me and by the whole group.
Specifically, you’ll be working to improve your facility with scenecraft (when to dramatize, when to summarize), point of view, setting, suspense, and readability.
All work will be discussed anonymously and read aloud.
To apply, send a 5-10 page writing sample in manuscript form (as an attachment) to Cathy Day at cathy@cathyday dot com. Applications will be taken from the day MWW registration begins (February 12) to midnight on March 27.
You will be notified of your acceptance by April 15 so that you can sign up for another intensive if you’re not selected.
On Thursday, half of you will assist Roxane Gay in her “Building a Website/Blog” class, and the other half will assist Jane Friedman in her “Creating an ebook Class.”
On Friday and Saturday, six of you will staff a Social Media Lab where attendees can get hands-on help and advice, and five of you will work as assistants to the literary agents who will be hearing pitches.
I thought I’d give you a few words of advice about internships. Here’s why:
I’ve been on both sides of the experience. I’ve been the intern, the outsider trying to get inside, and I’ve been the employer, the insider trying to train someone coming in from the outside.
Over the years, I’ve listened to a lot of former students complain about bad internship experiences, and I think that half the time, the students’ gripes are probably valid and the other half, the students’ gripes are the product of unreasonable expectations.
Internships aren’t classrooms (although they’re supposed to be)
Ever since I arrived at Ball State in 2010, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to expose students to the benefits of this conference. MWW is run by a group of dedicated volunteers. It’s not funded by Ball State University; it just happens to take place on campus. One day, I was talking about this to BSU professor Beth Turcotte (who knows everything about how to find the resources to make amazing things happen) and she recommended I look into the Discovery grant, and boom, I applied. In December, I found out I was a finalist and made a presentation to the members, and in February, I found out I’d been funded. I quickly put out a call for applications, and by April, I’d assembled my team. Continue reading →
1. The Midwest Writers Workshop, or MWW for short, happens in my town! A few miles from my house! Muncie, Indiana, July 26-28, 2012.
2. MWW’s faculty this year includes a Pulitzer finalist, a paranormal romance YA author, four literary agents, a best-selling author of cozy mysteries, a poet/memoirist/indie publisher, and quite a few long-time editors and publishing professionals. Including Jane Friedman, who I’ve been following for three years (long before I moved to Muncie) and who I credit with saving my writerly butt from literary oblivion.
3. MWW has been around for a long time: 39 years! Last year, I was on the faculty. This year, I’m the newest member of the Planning Committee. Some of the committee members have been working to make this conference happen for over 35 years. You can read more about the history here.
4. MWW is the only writers conference I know of that offers on-site, totally free “social media consulting”—a drop-in tutoring center where you can get your Facebook/Twitter/blogging act together.
5. Veronica Roth, author of the best-selling, dystopian YA novel Divergent (which is really, really good) got her start at MWW. My fellow committee member Kelsey Timmerman also got his start at MWW. He attended a few years ago, pitched his idea to an agent, and thus his book became a reality: Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes. There are many other success stories.
6. Remember when I wrote about how anxiety-inducing AWP is? Anxiety + Community = AWP. MWW, on the other hand, is small, intimate, encouraging—nothing at all like AWP. It’s open to anyone. You don’t have to apply to get in or secure a letter of recommendation.
8. If you read this blog because you teach creative writing, listen up. If you have strong students, don’t think that sending them to an MFA program is the only way to help them pursue their dream. Send them to MWW. Remember a few months ago, I asked, Should we make it our business to teach the business of creative writing? The response to that post was a resounding, Yes. Writers conferences are one way we can teach our students about the “biz.”
9. If you read this blog because you’re an aspiring writer, listen up: I know you write and read and edit alone. You go online to find community and advice about what comes next. But you need to find community IRL. You need to stop Googling “How do I publish a book?” You need to fork out some dollars, because believe me, there’s nothing like spending some money to help you start taking yourself a little more seriously. You need to actually show up to an actual brick and mortar building where others like yourself have also shown up.
10. I know I said this already, but this conference is in Indiana. Not in Boston or New York or even the bucolic Florida Keys. It’s in Muncie, Indiana. One reason why I left Indiana 20 years ago is that I believed you HAD to leave Indiana in order to be a writer (or an artist of any kind), but I came back two years ago because I wanted to help the next generation of Hoosier artists realize their dreams and become the people they want to be. When you’re poor or working class or live in a place where there isn’t a lot of literary activity, it’s not that easy to imagine yourself “becoming a writer.” That’s why bringing the publishing world to Indiana matters. A lot.
Will I see you there? This summer? Next summer for the 40th anniversary? I hope so. And do you know someone in the Midwest who wants to be a writer? Send them this link. Thank you.