On writing if not well, then at least some

Trying to keep my  nose to the grindstone in terms of writing. It's hard to stay motivated to write creatively when using your brainpower writing for clients -- especially if you have extremely limited capacity in that area. Still, I'm determined to stay focused with some writing classes and workshops in the future. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I'd applied to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference for August. I haven't heard anything back yet, but thought I'd post a little more info on it in case you're interested. It's well-reputed ten-day summer writing conference at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. You have to apply to be accepted.

The price is kind of steep for those on a shoe-string budget ($2,000-plus) but you can also apply as a scholarship student, meaning you wait tables during meals and get to attend the conference for free. The price does include lodging and meals. My friend Maureen (currently enjoying the adventure of opening a restaurant with her boyfriend Tom in Manchester, NH) went a few summers ago and highly recommends the experience, although she suggests skipping the work study part and splurging so you can enjoy the idyllic setting and seclusion to really immerse yourself in writing.

In July, my friend Fara and I are going to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in Iowa City, Iowa. It's hosted by the infamous Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa in June and July and week- and weekend-long workshops covering just about any range of topics. They have an impressive list of workshop leaders (past and present.) It costs $500-525 for each week long workshop and $250 for the weekend workshops -- you're on your own for lodging and meals.

Iowa City's a great little writers' town to spend a week or so in and I've enjoyed my workshops the past couple of years. You don't need to apply to get in -- your check just needs to clear. Which can be a good thing and a bad. You'll find yourself amidst eager, serious writers, hobbyists and a slew of post-middle-age housewives trying to find themselves through poetry. Not that I'm judging.

Today, my friend Margaret sent me an email with three wonderful sounding Summer Writing Workshops in Europe.They seem to be the brainchild of a handful of writers who are offering week-plus-long workshop this summer -- fiction writing in Florence, memoir writing in Barcelona, poetry in Dublin. Talk about a fantasy deal! Oh, I'm aching for some Euro-travel and the thought of playing around with words in Florence or Barcelona sounds too romantic and evocative!

Of course, it also sounds expensive. Although, considering the cost of Bread Loaf the about $2,000 price tag to study in Europe and be able to receive college credit for it too is pretty tempting. Lodging is included but not meals and you're on your own with airfare. Definitely out of my price range for this summer, assuming Bread Loaf comes through, but something to keep on the radar for next year, no?

I'm also feeling out a couple of friends here regarding forming a writing group. I'm really intrigued and inspired by Dave Eggers' advice to start with your one best anecdote. I thought it would be interesting to start a writing group on that premise -- everyone beginning with their one best anecdote and working to make it better and better. Everyone I know is so busy though and it's hard to gauge whether peoples' interest in an idea would translate into commitment in the follow-through.  

Also on the writing front, I've got another 826 Michigan volunteer project in the works while I await for my next workshop session to start again mid-April. One of the small, private schools here is trying to get its students interested in starting a newspaper. Right now, they've no one to help them figure out what that means or how to go about it. Chris and I volunteered (meaning I volunteered both of us) to help figure out what that might look like.

At this point I'm envisioning a four- or six-week project where I bring a different journalist into the school each week to discuss with the kids different aspects of journalism -- what makes a news story, how to write a lead, interviewing techniques. My hope is that, at the end of the session, they'd be in a place where the students and their advisor (a parent who is eager to learn but has no background in journalism) can fly solo. 

Wow. That sounds like an even bigger undertaking than before when I write it down on paper. I imagine I'll be keeping you updated on that, eh? Write on!