Friday Guest Post: Summer Writing Conferences

For this week's Friday Fun, we have another wonderful guest post by my dear friend Linda Busby Parker.  You may remember that Linda recently wrote about the value of networking for writer, which post you can read here.

Summer Writing Conferences
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by Linda Busby Parker

Time to think of summer writing conferences! For anyone seriously interested in creative writing, summer conferences are a must. Many writing groups take the summer off and the members of those groups might feel as if they are wilting in the long, hot months of June, July and August. Summer writing conferences serve as well-springs to keep the writing life flourishing during those dry summer months!

Where can a writer locate summer conferences? A first stop is on-line: SHAW GUIDES TO WRITERS CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS.  Any writer will find more conferences there than she/he can possibly attend. Conferences are also announced in POETS & WRITERS, the WRITER’S CHRONICLE, and some of the other writing magazines including WRITER’S DIGEST and THE WRITER. State humanities organization also maintains lists of writing conferences and festivals within individual states.

There are conferences and workshops for every kind of creative writer—memoir, short story, poetry, novel, stage and screen writers, children and YA writers, Christian writers, environmental writers, and so many more. Every conference has its own format. Some offer just a workshop format where writers submit their work for critique. Others offer a combination of lectures, panels, and workshops. Other conferences offer not only the lectures, panels, and workshops, but also bring in agents and editors. Be selective! Choose the conference that’s tailor-made for you at this point in your writing life.

Some conferences are difficult to gain admission. Top on the list of difficult are: Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Squaw Valley. Workshop critiques at these conferences can be extremely penetrating and caustic. These might not be the best conferences for those writers not open to the critique process.

Conferences can also be expensive. Tuition ranges from $150 to $1500 or more. That’s another reason for reading all information carefully and selecting the conference that’s best for you. What do you as a writer need to get out of a conference this summer? Think about your own writing needs/desires before selecting a conference.

I’ve been to Bread Loaf, Sewanee, the Kenyon Review Workshop, Indiana University Summer Writing Conference, New Harmony Writing Retreat, and several southeastern summer conferences. I’ve never attended a summer conference I didn’t like! I’ve never attended a summer conference that I didn’t come away enriched by the experience! It’s definitely time to start thinking summer writing conferences, workshops, and retreats!

Linda Busby Parker is author of the award-winning novel, Seven Laurels and is a professor of writing at The University of South Alabama in Mobile. She also teaches in a low-residency program in Continuing Education—The Writers’ Loft—at Middle Tennessee State University. Her blog is www.lindabusbyparker.us

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