Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Chautauqua Experience

I recently got back from Chautauqua, New York, from the Highlights Foundation writer's conference. To say it was awesome is simply not enough. Consider it being awesome, and then raise it to the nth degree, and you'll have it.

There were 45 classes offered, and each conferee took 15 in the afternoons. There was a morning class, critique sessions with your mentor, lunch, and the three afternoon classes back to back. Then you had 45 minutes of "free" time during which you got ready for the evening meal, and another speaker. Usually we got back from dinner around 8:30 to 9:30. As you can see, there was hardly time to breathe!

What did I learn? Oh, so many things. I learned that once you know the rules, you can break them. I learned to write what I care about...passionately. I discovered the hero's journey all over again. I learned about how to write non-fiction, to research historical novels, and to spread my wings and soar.

Truly, this is simply an overview of all that happened. My mentor was Stephen Roxburgh, a legend in and of himself. I was SO intimidated before I met him. He set my mind at ease, and we talked about my young adult novel, "My Name is Bib" and showed me how it could be better, more relevant. I went from being stuck to being non-stuck on this book.

I met the most marvelous people! I tried to sit with a different group during each of the meals, so that I could meet and enjoy as many people as possible. The presenters also sat at different tables for the meal, so that the writers could ask questions of them. They were warm, friendly, and extremely helpful. I don't know how the conference could have improved to make it better.

That's Chautauqua in a nutshell. Check out my blog www.katiehines.blogspot.com for more updates!

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