Explore how to craft, polish, and publish your writing with two award-winning veteran editors from Down East, The Magazine of Maine. For three late-summer days, on a secluded Maine island, you will learn how to turn a good piece of writing into something great.
Your workshop leaders are Brian Kevin, the managing editor of Down East magazine and Virginia (Ginny) M. Wright, Down East‘s senior editor. Brian has been a contributing editor to magazines that include Outside, Audubon, The Atlantic, Travel + Leisure, and others. He is widely recognized or collected in the Best American Essays, Best American Sports Writing, and Best Food Writing anthologies. His book, The Footloose American, received the 2015 Maine Literary Award for Nonfiction, and he’s been writing for 15 years in Down East. Ginny has won five International Regional Magazine Association awards, including three golds. She’s the author of five books, including Route 1: Maine and Ultimate Acadia. Both will work with you in a fast-moving, exclusive group with lots of one-on-one instruction for serious writers of every level.
There is a wide variety of non-curricular activities for accompanying guests to pursue, including sailing, hiking, and shopping. You can tour several excellent museums, including the Farnsworth, home to the second-largest collection of works by Andrew Wyeth; the Owls Head Transportation Museum where you can see a fabulous collection of rare automobiles and more. Of course, nonparticipants are welcome to join us for the kick-off dinner and the traditional Down East lobster bake. There will also be guided sea-kayaking opportunities included in the stay. It is a wonderful time for everyone.
We’ll get acquainted and talk about your writing goals for the coming days on Gay Island. Over dinner and drinks in Camden, we’ll discuss the writing of place and narrative nonfiction, and we’ll send you to your hotel room at the beautiful 16 Bayview with a story or two to read before bed.
Morning Session — Lens and Legwork in Narrative Nonfiction: After a tour of the Down East offices, we will travel by kayak (or motorized boat if you prefer) to our lodge on Gay Island. We’ll spend our early workshop delving into the craft of narrative nonfiction, paying special attention to perspective, point of view, and the reporting techniques that give a story detail and depth. We’ll practice interview techniques (a great ice-breaker for our first day on the
island!) and share a few favorite magazine stories with varying approaches to the genre.
Afternoon Session — Personal Essays: How do you put your own experiences on the page in a way that makes them universally relatable? We’ll explore the craft of writing personal stories that resonate with an audience, with a focus on balancing accuracy and subjectivity and on adapting sensory experience into prose that sings. There will be time for some low-stakes writing exercises with the option of sharing work for critique. Then, the evening brings oysters, an Allagash beer tasting, and lobster bake on the beach.
Morning Session — Writing Place: Some of the most powerful nonfiction writing involves communion with landscape and culture: from Thoreau’s narrated rambles through his beloved Eastern woodlands to Sig Olson’s songs of the frozen north, from Annie Dillard’s ascetic meditations at Tinker Creek to Terry Tempest Williams’ intimate maps of the high-desert West. We’ll look at some favorite examples and talk about how to synthesize techniques from the previous day’s sessions to produce powerful, insightful place-based writing.
Afternoon Session — How to Pitch a Magazine: Writers have, at best, just a few paragraphs to sell a magazine editor on their terrific essay or story idea. We’ll discuss some of the most avoidable pitching pitfalls, dissect several real-life pitches, and get specific on how to identify tropes, grab an editor’s attention, and understand the crucial difference between pitching a topic and pitching a story. In the evening we’ll be treated to a delicious dinner catered by a midcoast restaurant.
Morning Wrap-Up: Before we depart for the mainland, we’ll have a chance to take stock and revisit topics from the previous days, share some work or bits of insight, and reflect on our writing plans going forward. Then we’ll load up our gear and head back to Maine Sport in Rockport, say our goodbyes, and start making plans for next year!
Down East Adventures Cancellation Policy
Payment: An initial 50% deposit is required to hold your space on the trip. Reservations cannot be made until we have received the deposit. The balance will be due on July 14th, 2017.
Cancellations: The deposit is non-refundable. Trip insurance is suggested. Alternately, 90% of your deposit will be refunded if a replacement can be found prior to the balance due date above.