Green Mountain Writers Conference celebrates creativity
By Janelle Faignant
Years ago, when Yvonne Daley had just gotten her master of fine arts degree in fiction at Montpelier’s Vermont College, her writing career was already at full steam.
Soon after, she won the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship, a mid-career year of study at Stanford University, where she and a group of fellow students formed a writing group. Leadership of that group fell naturally to Daley, fresh from the MFA program and the tools she accumulated there. Today the writing group that began almost 20 years ago has evolved into what is now called the Green Mountain Writers Conference.
The annual event takes place July 29-Aug. 2 this year and comprises five days of immersion in all things writing — exercises, discussions, readings, workshops and one-on-one meetings. Authors, editors and agents gather in a rustic pavilion on the shore of Tinmouth Pond for the conference, now in its 16th year. Daley is the director and runs it with her husband, former Rutland Herald sports writer Chuck Clarino, assistant director of the conference.
Daley, formerly a Rutland Herald reporter, has authored thousands of news and magazine articles and several books, and says the conference is a way to create a supportive community for writers while also being very practical about the craft of writing.
“Writing improves when you’re in a safe and secure environment and you can trust people with your material,” Daley said in a recent interview.
Poet Verandah Porche of Guilford returns each year to lead workshops in poetry and says she appreciates the atmosphere of the conference.
“People can be complete beginners, writing their first line,” Porche explained. “Or they can be people who are seasoned writers, and everyone has a place there. I’ve worked at other conferences that were more upscale, and where the pecking order was clear and explicitly enforced. This is as laid back as the lake. Anybody who wants a safe place to stretch could benefit from being there.”
A day at the conference begins at 9 a.m., usually with a warm-up exercise. Throughout the day there are several workshops offered such as prose, fiction or nonfiction.
This year will feature Stuart Horwitz, whose new book, “Blueprint Your Bestseller” was named one of this year’s best books about writing by The Writer magazine.
The conference also offers talks on publishing, on the guilty pleasures of reading, and strategies for finding time to write.
“You can have all the instruction in the world but if you don’t know how to cobble out an hour a day to write and one day a week to really sit down for three or four uninterrupted hours you’re never going to get anything accomplished,” Daley said.
She added the conference has gotten better every year. That includes bringing people in for the last two years who Daley calls “book doctors” — people that know a lot about the publishing world. Not necessarily agents that would go out and get you a contract, but they offer their services so someone who’s working on a book can get feedback as to whether their project has a future.
“Something magical happens during that week,” said Clarino, who recently finished a couple of memoir pieces, one of which he will read at the conference. “In a lot of ways it’s like going to a camp in the summer. You meet new friends and bond together and you’re sad when it’s over.”
Green Mountain Writers Conference
The Green Mountain Writers Conference takes place July 29-Aug. 2 in Tinmouth. For more information, go online to www.vermontwriters.com.