This semester, I told my students that once upon a time, Muncie, Indiana was a boom town.
To prove it, I showed them this picture, taken by my Ball State colleague, Lee Florea. He hails from a small town in Kentucky, and this map is still painted on the wall of the local general store. Continue reading →
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.
Why you should apply
Because Midwest Writers is a great conference. Here’s a previous post extolling its many virtues.
Because normally, I don’t read work by people I don’t know. I devote my energy to my current and former students–and that’s considerable. All writers get a lot of requests like this from people they don’t know. But I almost always say no. I just don’t have time, unfortunately. But this summer, I will say yes to six people.
Because the best thing a writing conference can give you is writing instruction. Not “how to market yourself.” Not a lecture on “how to write better.” But someone spending time with your words specifically.
Because your work will be read aloud. There’s nothing quite so illuminating as being physically present when a group of strangers experiences your work for the first time. You see them fidget when they get bored. You hear them laugh and sigh. You watch them lean forward in their chairs. (Ever since The Circus in Winter started its journey as a musical, I’ve realized how important and instructive “live reading” can be.)
Because your work will presented anonymously. Nobody will know whose is whose. This might make you more inclined to write about something embarrassing or difficult–which is probably your best material, actually. And you’ll get more honest feedback, too; people tend to pull punches in their critique when the writer is right in front of them.
1. Sutton Foster will be there. Not performing. Just watching. But still…Sutton freaking Foster, people.
2. My parents will be there. They are cute.
3. My sister will be there. She is cute.
4. The President of Ball State University, Jo Ann Gora will be there. Note that I put my family before President Gora but after Sutton Foster…please don’t read too much into this. I need to keep my job and my family relations intact.
5. Thanks to Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut and to the hard work of Beth Turcotte, Ben Clark, producer Sean Cercone and others, the book (the story, the script) is better. The plot is different from the version you might already be familiar with. There’s a new character!
6. There’s some new music, new songs by Ben Clark. So yay! new material by Ben! (You’ve probably seen him on teeeee-veeee…)
7. I hear the whole band will be there, too! Yay Joe Young on the mandolin! Yay Nick Rapley on percussion! Will Sean Muzzi be there, too? (He just got a gig playing for the Glenn Miller Orchestra!)
8. It’s a concert reading. And the next morning, they’re taking off for NEW YORK CITY to perform in front of a select group of investor-type folks. So we need to send them off with a bang, like in a pep rally sort of way!
9. WHERE IS IT? It’s taking place at 8 PM, 4/25 at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts, 520 E. Main St., in downtown Muncie, which also happens to be a block from my house, so yay! I can stumble home happily afterwards.
10. It’s free and open to the public, so tell all your friends!
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.
The Circus in Winter will be going to the American College Theatre Festival in January!
Come see our Benefit Performance on January 2nd in University Theatre! If you missed it this fall, here is your chance to see it now! It’s amazing.
The Circus in Winter
By the students of the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry Inspired by the novel by Cathy Day Directed by Beth Turcotte Musical Direction by Ben Clark and Alex Kocoshis Choreography by Erin Spahr
January 2 at 7:00pm
Tickets: $10-all proceeds will go toward the students traveling to the American College Theatre Festival
Based on the novel by Cathy Day and adapted for the stage by Beth Turcotte and students from the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, The Circus in Winter is the story of the passion beneath the big top. Join Wallace Porter, a stable owner from Indiana, as he falls in love and searches for his life’s work, a journey that culminates in the purchase of his own circus. Filled with fantastic characters, heart-rending moments of love an loss, and extraordinary new music, The Circus in Winter is a feast for the eyes, ears, and heart.
For more information, please contact the University Theatre Box Office at 765-285-8749 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets will go on sale on December 12th! Box Office Hours are as follows: December 12-16 from 1-5pm, December 19-22 from 1pm-5pm, December 23 from 9am-Noon, December 28-29 from 1-5pm, December 30 from 9am-Noon and January 2 from 5-7pm.