We all know about Tin House, Sewanee, Yaddo, the Vermont Studio, and the FAWC (which I get to attend in June! Woot!), and some of us, like me a few months ago, set our sights on those places for our summers and forget about the smaller, newer and lesser known summer writing conferences and retreats.
I just got back from the Seaside Writers Conference, which was my week out with a group of writers who workshopped stories, attended readings, and hung at the beach together. These writers were fun and helpful and not competitive, which was maybe my favorite part. The FL Gulf beach at Seaside, which also happens to be the set of The Truman Show, was beautiful enough to make me feel that twinge of “I can’t believe I get to do this” and “Why isn’t everyone here?” from time to time.
I have been writing for a decade and a half, but it hasn’t occurred to me until lately to do this kind of writer’s retreat. I have been out of school for a couple of years and I thought I was done with workshop, as a thing, but I learned more in this week than I have in certain semesters. This is probably thanks to Matt Bondurant, who led us through each other’s stories with the right amount of tough, encouraging, and helpful feedback we all hope to get on our work.
I also got to learn how to pitch a book at a New York agent, an intimidating experience that has now been de-mystified. Poets got to study with Seth Brady Tucker for the week, and I attended his flash-fiction talk one morning. Like Bondurant, he is also a tremendous instructor and worth the trip.
I’m curious if any of you writers have had your own great summer writing experience somewhere else. I can’t recommend this one enough.