Big Sur Writing Workshop

Posted by Dwayne on March 17, 2012

My writing has been slowly improving for some time now, but there’s been a growing realization that something has been missing. Countless rewrites of favorite passages never seemed to solve the problem. Talking with other very capable friends and reviewers offered some insight, but still … something wasn’t connecting about the next level.

So, I finally decided to take the plunge and go to a writer’s workshop. After a modicum of research, I found the Big Sur Writing Workshop.  This workshop is conducted twice a year and focuses on Children to Young Adult literature. It was a bit of an adventure traveling from Alabama to Monterey, CA for a long weekend of writing, but it was worth it in ways I’m still discovering.

The basic premise of the workshop is that you have four sessions (1 Friday, 2 Saturday, 1 Sunday) in which you, along with 4 other authors, spend a couple of hours with a professional going over your work.  You benefit directly when your material is being discussed, but you also benefit by observing (and participating) in the review for the other authors.

The professional for my first and third sessions was Eric Elfman ( personal site, coaching site).  It would have been worth the cost of the trip and the workshop just for those two sessions alone.  Eric demonstrated an amazing ability to zero in on a problem.  But he went beyond just pointing out difficult areas, he also offered extremely helpful suggestions about how to address the specific problem and the underlying weakness in the future.

The professional for my second and fourth sessions was Laura Rennert, a senior agent with Andrew Brown Literary Agency.  Her insight matched Eric’s in every way.  She had a nurturing way of easing you through the recognition of a problem and suggesting answers.  I found myself listening carefully to every observation she made, trying to understand so I could apply that same insight to my own writing in the future.

I’ll write more in the days ahead about what I learned, who I met, and where to go next.

Categories: Conventions