Earlier this month, you could find me high up in the Santa Cruz mountains of Northern California, not so far from San Francisco, at a beautiful artists’ sanctuary called the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
I was gifted a writing residency there once before, in 2012, but my visit this month was to share my love of the place—and its inspiration, its magic—with my fellow YA and middle-grade writers. The very first Djerassi YA Novel Workshop & Retreat was February 9–14, and it went better than I could have even hoped.
Eleven writers were selected from a group of competitive applications to join me at Djerassi for a week of workshopping, retreating, and exploring the beautiful grounds on the mountain. We discussed novels-in-progress in group critiques in the morning workshops, wrote in the afternoons, met for private conferences with me to discuss even more novel pages, devoured Chef Dan’s delicious dinners, explored the grounds and the sculptures left behind by artists in the woods, and shared more writing in evening readings.
I was struck by the talent of each one of the writers—and also by how giving and committed they were to supporting each other and critiquing their fellow writers’ work. It was a joy to teach this workshop and have the chance to read pages from these novels. I came away having learned so much myself, and itching to write… which is the best gift, in all ways.
My thanks go to the writers—the very first participants not just of this YA workshop series with me, but of a new alumni-led workshop program at Djerassi (the Djerassi Resident Artists Program will be announcing more info on this soon, so stay tuned). This international group of dedicated writers was the very first workshop on the Djerassi grounds!
My next YA Novel Workshop & Retreat at Djerassi is this coming June, and if it’s possible I am now even more excited to share this experience with a new talented group of YA and middle-grade writers. If you’re signed up for June, I hope this post gets you all the more excited about what’s to come. I’ll be emailing soon with more details on what to expect. I can’t wait to meet all of you.
Spaces are full for the next session this June, but guess what?
The first workshop week was so rewarding for me that I jumped at the chance to hold one more YA Novel Workshop & Retreat at Djerassi next year, in June 2015. Applications for the June 2015 workshop will open this spring. Watch this space for an announcement of when applications become available. If you’d like to be on my mailing list to be notified by email when the 2015 workshop applications open, let me know!
Below are some photos from our glorious week:
Thank you to the awesome writers who took part in this workshop: Alisia, Asale, Edith, Elle, Jennifer, Jess, Kim, Marie, Rebekah, Susan, and Zoë! Special thanks to Margot (and Nick!) for offering me the chance to teach this workshop (and for the wonderful sculpture tour!), to Laura and Celia and Tom (and the best dog, Hank!) for making sure everything ran so smoothly even during the chaos of stormy airport pickups, to Dan for our truly delectable meals, to Judy for facilitating the applications, to E for help behind the scenes, and to everyone else involved in making this week such a success.
Applications for June 2015 will open this spring! I can’t wait to do this again… two more times!