Short fiction and poetry workshops make up the bulk of the conference. Each instructor leads a daily workshop of at most ten participants, or, in the "intensive" novel and memoir workshops, of five members. Class time is devoted to discussion and critiques of the participants' work as well as guidance from the instructor. There is also time outside the classroom for participants to meet one-on-one with their instructors for private consultation and analysis of their work.
We recommend that participants in all workshops complete at least the first full draft of their manuscripts well prior to the conference, or by May 1st. Everything that you submit is read by the instructor, who provides extensive one-on-one consultation over the course of the week. You see below the expectations of each workshop leader.
A nurturing, rigorous workshop open to writers with a complete (or nearly complete) memoir draft. The goal is to meet each manuscript on its own terms and help each writer take it to the next level. Ideally, everyone should come to the conference having read all of the manuscripts with care. Detailed written comments aren’t necessary; constructive contributions are. Individual conferences will be scheduled in addition to the workshop. Depending on time, we may read outside work and generate new writing.
Novel Intensive with Paul Cody
We’ll talk about one novel (or section of novel) a day, and I’ll meet with each of you individually, after your workshop, to talk about your work. I’ll also line-edit some selected pages, to give you a sense of what’s possible, word-by-careful-word. Please read each other’s work before the conference, and write a page or two in response—what works, what doesn’t, and why. That way each of you will get several written responses, and writing it down—as you no doubt already know—deepens the level of engagement. We’ll also do some brief haiku exercises, to help us slow down, breathe deep, and concentrate our attention.
Novel Intensive with Brian Hall
This workshop is an opportunity to have an entire novel manuscript read by the instructor and your fellow attendees (although partial manuscripts are also welcome: recommended minimum of 50 pages). With five participants, each possibly bringing a full novel, attendees must be ready to do a lot of reading in preparation for the conference. Line editing of each other's work is not necessary, but everyone should come prepared to comment in detail on each submission during the morning session, and provide each other with written comments of a general (or specific, of course, if you want) nature on their work. We will workshop one manuscript each morning. I will meet one-on-one in the afternoon with the writer whose work was discussed in the morning. I will provide detailed feedback on the entire manuscript, and will line-edit about 50 pages, to give an idea of textual issues that might pertain to the whole. Although a lot of preparation is required, the week is worth it.
This workshop will focus on novels. You can submit a draft of a novel or a segment of a novel. It is a good idea to give us a sense of what you are hoping to achieve from your workshop. Workshop participants will have one session devoted to their submission. Everyone must read the other manuscripts so we can discuss them in depth. Everyone will also prepare two pages of written notes for each workshop participant. Ideally the discussion and analysis of other people's work will help you address issues in your own work. I will give written notes and some editing queries on the manuscript with particular attention to the opening fifty pages. It is not required, but I am available for a private informal lunch session with each participant after his or her workshop to help sort through various suggestions and ideas.
In the brief but intense time we have at Colgate, I'd like to think of the workshop as both a close reading of your existing work [in appreciative and critical ways] and as suggestions on how to push the work farther. The emphasis will be both on the language and the shaping and forming of the writing, and the imagination -- the vision that's unique to each individual. Workshop style discussion of student work will be the emphasis, although each class will begin with poems, ancient and modern, as model or target for discussions of technique as well as examples of tapping the resources available to the writer. I’ll begin class with what I call, an “exemplary” poet – avoiding the more proscriptive term “essential.” Exercises will include ways to locate the source of your poems as well as ways to "music" them, to lick them into shape, and to revise them.
Short Fiction with Greg Ames
All short story manuscripts will be circulated in advance of the conference. Manuscripts should be no longer than 20 pages, double-spaced. The workshop will focus on two short stories per session. Afterward the instructor will consult one-on-one with each writer. Participants will be asked to write a full-page, single-spaced letter in response to each story under consideration. They might want to write these letters before the conference begins to save time because it will be an intense, packed week of writing, reading, and celebrating.
In addition to the workshop experience, there are increasingly those of us who come up for the week to engage in a Writers’ Retreat, one in which one refrains from joining a workshop but rather partakes of whatever else of the Conference one wishes: craft and shop talks by professional editors and agents; evening readings; readings of one’s own work to other participants; socializing and sharing. Perhaps you have earned yourself a retreat of this nature?