By Cameron Lund, MCWC Social Media Manager
We celebrated our 28th year this summer at MCWC 2017 and it could not have gone better! A big thank you to everyone involved: faculty, volunteers, donors, board members, and—of course—our enormously talented attendees. We were moved by the courage, creativity, and camaraderie shown by this community throughout the long weekend. Thank you for making MCWC such a safe and special place to be.
This year’s faculty came from both near and far to be with us—some especially far, like Jamaican-born poet Shara McCallum, who traveled from Pennsylvania State University (a more than twelve-hour journey door to door). “It was absolutely worth the time and distance I traveled to be there,” she tells us. “I loved the conference—my workshop especially, as well as all the people I met and spent time with in various ways, formal and informal—and the physical wonder of the place that is Mendocino. I was grateful to be part of this vibrant community for a time.”
The other MCWC 2017 morning workshops were led by Jody Gehrman (Master Class), Michael David Lukas (Novel Writing), Kat Meads (Short Fiction), Lewis Buzbee (MG/YA), John Evans (Memoir), and Lisa Locascio (Emerging Writers). Says repeat attendee Terry Connolly, a Master Class participant, “The best part of the conference is always the morning workshops…The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. It’s a place where one feels safe to share.”
Our afternoon seminars saw the introduction of two new genres for MCWC: Flash Fiction with instructor Kara Vernor, and Screenwriting with film maker Alexandra Lexton. And every evening brought a social event including faculty readings and a closing dinner with keynote speaker, Michael Krasny— author, literature professor, and award-winning anchor of NPR’s Forum.
For some, the conference was a very direct path to success. The popular Pitch Panels—with agents April Eberhardt and Jessica Sinsheimer, and publisher Shirin Bridges—led to several attendees being asked to send pages, including scholarship winner Bronwynn Dean. “It was one of my goals for the conference,” Bronwynn says. “The encouragement I received from other attendees who heard [my pitch] also made me feel confident. If the first agent doesn’t bite, now I know at least I have a solid pitch to query others.”
Says Jessica Sinsheimer, the agent who asked to see Bronwynn's pages, “Writers were given a very scary task: read a pitch, in front of everyone (including a panel of faculty) for feedback. One pitch stood out to me for its literary writing—the author had created a memoir in essays about modern farming, and had woven in plant-related words in the most beautiful, literary way. Her pitch—a format that can, without great care, sound sales-y, or forced—sounded like something Annie Dilliard might write. I found her afterwards to request her work, and will be sharing it with my office this week.”
On that positive note, let’s call it a wrap! We would like to thank all who were part of MCWC 2017, and to invite everyone to join us again for MCWC 2018. To see the rest of Mimi Carroll’s beautiful and atmospheric photos of the conference, please click here.