Frequently Asked Questions
I really want to take a summer writing workshop, but I’m worried my writing won’t be good enough—or “intellectual” enough. I’m not academic at all. Basically, I’m worried my stuff will get laughed at.
Your writing will be good enough, it will be smart enough, and it certainly won’t get laughed at. The week is about the creative enterprise, delving into your imagination, and learning some critical tools that can help you shape what your inspiration has startled into life. Each year at the end of the week, many of the new participants confess that they almost didn’t apply because of the fear that the workshop would be out of their league, but everyone is glad they did. We have many returnees, and they’re all like family members.
Okay, but how can you really be so sure my writing won’t get laughed at?
First of all, each day you are writing a new piece—a new poem, a new story, a new work of nonfiction. Even the most seasoned writers are nervous about writing something overnight and then presenting it in the morning. Even the teachers would be scared. In fact, the teachers are glad they don’t have to do it. On the other hand, there is something immensely exhilarating about this process. Your fellow participants will cheer you on. The fact that you were even able to do the assignment makes it a success. And at least once you’ll write something you never knew you had in you. That’s the moment we all strive for.
How do the participants “present” their piece?
Each teacher runs his or her workshop a little differently, but usually the participants read their pieces aloud. Reading aloud changes the workshop experience entirely. The writer and the “readers” experience the piece in a new way. The participants quickly begin to hone their ability to analyze, to sense missed opportunities. At the same time, a dramatic reading makes them excited. From the start, the writer is part of the critique, not someone who sits passively by while others try to think up something intelligent-sounding to say.
What is the goal of your workshop?
The goal of our workshop is simple: to produce as much new material as possible. In the best of worlds, the writer will take home a polished, nearly finished product as well as enough raw material to work on the rest of the year.
You have three fiction instructors listed for this year. Will I be working with all three?
No. As in poetry and nonfiction, you are assigned to be in one instructor’s workshop. The instructors stay with their class. But the instructors try hard to get to know the other participants and their work. The evening readings are a great way to introduce yourself to the other instructors as well as the other participants.
Can I request a certain instructor?
Yes. We try hard to honor requests. But if you have a particular instructor in mind, the earlier you apply the better.
I have stage fright. I don’t think I can participate in the evening readings and read my own work.
Everyone says that every year and yet everyone becomes eager to do it. It’s part of the magic of our community. Everyone is excited to share. On the other hand, the evening readings certainly aren’t mandatory.
I’ve grown used to my privacy. Are all the lodging arrangements on a share basis?
A private dorm room with locking door and a shared bath down the hall is included in the base price of the workshop. There are also two apartment options for an additional fee: the Taft Cottages and the North Campus Apartments. Each Taft Cottage apartment has three private bedrooms with locking doors, a shared bath, and shared living space with mini kitchen (add $150.00 to the base price of the workshop). The North Campus Apartments are new townhouse apartments with three bedrooms, shared living room and kitchenette, and two shared baths (add $300.00 to the base price of the workshop). All lodging options are air-conditioned. If none of these options meets your need for privacy you may book and pay for lodging in a Gambier-area hotel or B & B. If you book and pay for your own lodging you will receive a $150 discount on your workshop fee.
Is the campus hard to get around?
From a logistical point of view, the campus is easy. However, it is a walking campus, not a driving campus. You’ll walk at least a mile a day. If this is a problem, you need to speak to the summer programs director (Anna Duke Reach) to see if arrangements can be made.
How many people in each class?
We try to make ten the maximum.
I’m retired. Will I be older than everyone else?
No. You’ll just be older than some people. We have all age groups.
Will I make friends?