We just launched the Table Rock Writers Workshop.
Huh? What do you mean, sort of? And who are we? Several longtime instructors in the Duke University Writers Workshop recently came together to preserve this long-running resource for writers. The Duke University adult education office hosted their weeklong workshop for 30 years, and then they recently decided to focus their resources on professional certificate programs (accounting, paralegal, technical writing).
End of creative writing workshop? We said, no way.
I directed the Duke workshop for 20 years and attended it myself in 1985. Longtime teacher Judy Goldman (two books of poetry, two novels) attended it in 1986. Novelist and poet Darnell Arnoult worked at Duke Documentary Studies and taught for many years in this program. Novelist Abigail DeWitt, who has taught for us for a decade said, “We can’t let this thing die!”
The Duke workshop has shaped many a writer and nurtured lifelong friendships. How do you let that go down? Well, you don’t. You change the title but not the story.
So here we are, ready to keep going with our special approach to the creative writing process, and we hope it might be a fit for you.
HOW TABLE ROCK WORKS
Registrants choose one instructor for the week (3 hours every morning in a small group) but also have a chance to learn from the other instructors in afternoon sessions of the whole gathering. This is a relatively small event–50 participants–so we get to know everyone’s name, where they’re from, and what they are (or are not) working on. The Duke workshop drew participants from all over the country. We aim to do the same.
We do not require submissions from participants for admission. We meet you where you are in your writing–seasoned, stuck or just starting. We do not ever seek to discourage a writer. In fact, we believe there is the possibility of publication for all of us, but that is not the only reason to take up writing. We are very serious about craft, and participants can be sure to be challenged in their workshop group, at whatever level, with respect and kindness.
If you’ve been around writers workshops, you know that some long-running, prestigious programs have a reputation for blistering criticism and a fixed hierarchy among faculty. We think that’s unhelpful (she said delicately). At Table Rock, we approach teaching and learning as peers, because we know that every new project is daunting to any writer. Every time you sit down, the blank page is a steep cliff that requires us to jump off–no matter how many times we’ve done it before.
So why the name Table Rock? It’s a landmark that’s near our workshop site–Wildacres Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It’s also a metaphor for this approach. We want folks to have a firm foundation in the art and craft of creative writing. And a table is where we do our work. We sit every morning in circles on a mountaintop. Some American Indians believe that sitting in a circle is a wise way to gather. So do we. In a circle, everyone has someone’s back: I look out for you; you look out for me. That’s our approach. We come together once a year to support each other as writers. Since writing is such a solitary act, we think building a community is critical.
We hope you’ll consider joining us on the mountain September 20–24 and watch this blog for postings from our teachers, friends, and past participants! We welcome your comments and questions. Or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To register or learn more visit: <http://www.tablerockwriters.com>