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Saturday, September 3, 2011

What is a writer's boot camp? How luxurious does it have to be?

Dear Reader; a warning. You may be entering a RANT zone!

I got an invitation by e-mail to sign-up for a “luxury weekend” writers’ retreat to be held at an upscale lodge with water views, loads of charm and spectacular food. This is billed as a “no nonsense” intensive “camp” run by experts who just know you are ready to get serious about your craft. (Frankly, I don’t know many real writers who can afford a luxury weekend. Frankly, I don’t know many writers who would want to go.)


(I am changing details here in an effort to disguise the perpetrators of this event without changing the circumstances. I might have been more enthusiastic about this program if the blurb they sent hadn’t been riddled with typos.)
First Evening: Refreshments and appetizers and then social time to schmooze each other. (There was a no-host bar.) Finally off to bed.
Next Day: After a gourmet breakfast a three hour workshop and then lunch, more workshops and “consultations” and something else I don’t understand and makes not a lot of sense; free time. Then more schmoozing and dinner followed by charades and parlor games and more schmoozing.
Last Day: Same as the previous one except everyone breaks camp late in the afternoon and goes home.
You would probably be amazed at the price tag for these 48 hours of “intensive work” and delicious food and socializing.


There’s the woman I’ll call Asteroid who has money to pay for such a boot camp. The last time I heard from Asteroid she’d been working on her chapbook for years. But she is published if you consider a quarterly review that pays in seven copies as being published. Asteroid demands attention when she enters any room, not just because of her size but because her voice would stop a truck and she has self-confidence to burn. She wants to be seen. Picture a tugboat entering a crowded harbor.
Then there’s Malcolm. He’s a trust fund baby who owns a slick white laptop and he spends a lot of time at his favorite coffee shop where you’ll find him most afternoons biting his nails and pondering a paragraph for the Great American Novel. Malcolm loves events like this, likes them better if they last a week or ten days and meet in some high mountain lodge in Colorado. Time to hit Nordstrom for new duds!
Then we have Mitzy, also working on her novel for years. She doesn’t have a lot of ready cash, but saves all year to attend a prestigious writer’s conference. Her goal is not to learn more about her craft, but to snag an agent. She flies a good distance to that mountain lodge in Colorado, her luggage sagging with sample chapters and copies of her manuscript.


Then there’s Gordon. He lives in the Haight-Ashbury in a tiny rented room, works all day writing and then goes to his bartender’s job from around 7 PM until 2. So far he has not been published except for a few of those small quarterlies. I wouldn’t write him off. Given a few breaks and a bit of luck, who knows what Gordon might do? One thing is certain; he’d never spend a small fortune for 48 hours of intensive schmoozing!

If you have experiences in such a “boot camp” by all means send them along to share with the rest of us. Under 300 words will do fine.


My Kindle Books!
*4 Spooky Short Stories
*A Thorn of the Crown
*Paper Cuts
*Timothy Holbrook and the Zombie Curse
*Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself

Copyright 2011 by Spencer Schankel. All Rights Reserved.