by Amy Lutz, MCWC Editorial Assistant

get ready. get set. go!

Registration for MCWC 2018 closed with record numbers, making this year’s conference our largest yet! We are excited to welcome many new faces to our community this year, so we’ve asked some veteran participants for practical tips to help our first-timers prepare. In this month’s newsletter, you’ll find everything you need to know to make the most of your conference experience (along with some photos, courtesy of Mimi Carroll Photography, to get you excited about your visit to the beautiful Mendocino coast).

Packing

“Pack layers of clothing! The weather can be sunny and hot one minute and quite cold and breezy the next. What Twain said, ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco,’ holds true up here on the north coast.”  Leslie Wahlquist

“There’s no need to bring fancy clothes. You need to be comfortable, whatever that means for you and your natural style. Just be sure to bring good walking shoes so you can explore Mendocino during your time off.” Gloria Schoofs Jorgensen

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Preparing for your workshop

“It’s important to leave behind preconceived notions about your own work and to open your creation to the unpredictability of others. Treat the work of others with the same care and attention with which you’d like others to treat your own.”   Hunter Gagnon

“Come with an open mind and an open heart. Read your colleagues’ work closely, with love and appreciation for their hard work, then share your insights in the workshop and hear those of your colleagues.” Jane Armbruster

“When editing the submissions for your workshop, I’d advise you to read every piece twice. The first time through, put aside your pencil and let yourself enjoy it. Then when you edit the work on the second read, you’ll be able to share with the writer what you loved as well as what you think needs to be strengthened.” Marion Deeds

“In workshops ask broad questions, not specific ones that only relate to your work. Be considerate. Don’t dominate or consume all the air in the room.” — Terry Connelly

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Selecting Afternoon Events

“If you’re seriously interested in publishing, the pitch panel is a real eye-opener on what the long fiction market is looking for.” Ron Morita

“I’d encourage you to invest in individual consultations. It’s invaluable to have a pro focus on your material and give you personal pointers while you have their undivided attention. Also, be sure to come to the opening night reception. You’ll have a chance to see what the instructors are like and you can get acquainted with other classmates.” Gloria Schoofs Jorgensen

“Don’t underestimate what can be learned from the afternoon events, such as the pitch sessions, open mics, and the paths to publishing panel. There is always new insight and information to be gained from hearing another’s story.” Leslie Wahlquist

“Take advantage of open mics. Reading aloud in front of people lets you hear the flow and the rhythms of your work. It lets you see how your future readers will react to your words. (And don’t worry, we will think the funny parts are funny.) You will not find a more supportive, friendly audience anywhere than at this conference.” Marion Deeds

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Building your writing community

“Talk to staff and participants. Be friendly. Smile often. Respond to others by asking about them. Don’t just talk about yourself. Join social groups. Eat with others, both lunch groups on campus and groups going out to dinner.” — Terry Connelly

“Socializing between sessions is a good way to hook up with a writing group. Such groups are invaluable, not only for general reactions to what you have written, but also for the expertise provided by the occasional MFA professor, author, or editor you may run into through your social connections.” Ron Morita

“Cherish the connectionssome of the people you meet at the conference will become lifelong writing friends. They will be your best support network, a group of folks who know exactly what you’re going through when you write. You will always have the conference as a touchstone.” Marion Deeds

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Enjoying your time in Mendocino

“Pace yourself, try to leave time for writing and revising and reflection during the conference. There is a wonderful bookshop on Main Street and a great lobby at the Mendocino Hotel for tea or a glass of wine by the fire.” Leslie Wahlquist

“Beware of tiredness. Hydration, exercise, and remembering to take deep breaths throughout the day are all important strategies for taking care of yourself during the conference. Pay attention to what your body and your heart want to doit might be ‘all of it’ or it might be less.”  Earlene Gleisner

“Be inspired by Mendocinothe land, the sea, the light. Engage it by foot, by car, by any means available to you.” Jane Armbruster


The advice here is only a sampling of that provided by our generous contributors. To read their full responses, click here. And for more thoughts from the MCWC community, you can read last year’s advice article. We look forward to seeing you at MCWC 2018 in just a few weeks!