Biography workshop continued

It was my first ever writing workshop and I’m afraid that now I’m spoilt. Not only was the environment bucolic, we had lunch and dinner prepared in a professional kitchen with fresh local produce. There was even a cocktail half hour before dinner when the chef comes out to tell what will be served. My cabin(one of over 20) was fully equipped with a refrigerator, coffee maker and more towels that I could use in three days.

There were only 11 attendees, including a lone male. There were three leaders, two published children’s book writers, Robert Burleigh and Candace Fleming and Carolyn Yoder, a long time editor at the Highlights Company.

There were three talks by the three of them and two one -to one critique sessions with one of them. On the second evening, we read our ms and whoever wanted to comment did. There were three published or to be published authors among us, but most of us were unpublished.  I came away impressed with the quality of writing of the attendees and encouraged in my own writing. To be told that my biography of a retired ballet dancer is a powerful story means a lot to me.

The contact I made with the authors and the editor was priceless. I also learned that I have to find the cost of required images  for reproduction and permission when I query publishers. I didn’t know that before. I thought that I could just tell them where the images could be purchased.

The second important point about research is that, if possible, don’t just look at the document online. Candace looked an original document and found writing at the back that was no digitalized. From that writing, she had more material for her book.

I was told by my driver from the sidewalk bus stop that attendees are picked up at Scranton, La Guardia, JFK and Newark. My experience ended perfectly, I was driven to my door in Queens, after Robert Burleigh was dropped off at La Guardia. We had wonderful conversation during the ride. Our driver(not the one who picked me up) was a weaver who worked part time for Highlights.

I’ve finished another revision after I came home.  To my surprise, Robert Burleigh told me to email him the revision. I thought my workshop ended in Pa. It was very generous of him to give me more of his time.

I recommend the various workshops at Highlights Foundation. In two years, if a topic that interests me come up, I shall go again, with or without a partial scholarship.  Hopefully, by then writing will not be a hobby and the expense can be deductible!




Biography workshop

I had been receiving  invitations to the Highlights Foundations Workshop for at least two years. Maybe they have my address from my submissions( all rejected). This year I responded to the biography one because my biography of a retired renowned  dancer, had another chance at Charlesbridge Publising. The editor was willing to take a look at a  second revision.

The cost was high or three days of room and board.  I was told to apply for a scholarship. I had to send in my income tax return,  a writing sample and a brief biography of my writing career. The scholarship would be based on need, passion and  I suppose writing ability.  I received a partial scholarship which definitely helped.

At the workshop, one much younger attendee told me she had a full scholarship. I don’t know about anybody else’s scholarship status. Fellow writers, if you are interested, do apply for a scholarship.

I don’t drive long distances. I took the bus from Port Authority, NYC. There were only  5 people going to north Poconos, PA, after the full bus passengers got off at a discount shopping outlet. I was the only passenger for the last 10 miles in rural PA, It was a three  and a half hours bus ride. I was let off at my destination, Honesdale at the sidewalk. I asked, “Is this it?”  I was expecting a small bus station .

The bus driver said, ‘This is it. See the man sitting on the bench? He’s waiting for this bus fro the return trip.” Oh dear, I was supposed to be met by a driver to take me to Boyd Mills.  I was about to call the driver  when a lady came up to me. She said, pointing at different directions,

“Sometimes, the bus stops over there, sometimes over there.  I parked in the middle.”

I was in good hands. It took another 20 minutes to arrive at the site.

To be continued: the workshop exceeded my expectations.