The UWisc Writing Center is a fantastic resource. They offer affordable online classes and critiques for writers, as well as hosting a writing conference and a week-long workshop, Write by the Lake, in June.
When I matriculated at Goddard in 2013, I signed up for a generative poetry workshop. The course had five units, accessed through an online learning system, that one could work through at one's leisure. However, it also had an instructor, Angela Rydell, who read one poem and one revision per unit. I learned a lot about poetry and ended up publishing most of the poems I wrote.
One of the hardest parts of attending a low-residency program with a residency at the end of June was passing up on a lot of great writing events and opportunities in order to go to Vermont. This is my first free June since 2013, and I'm happy to report that I'll be spending a week in Madison at Write by the Lake. Angela is offering a manuscript workshop on improving the first fifty pages--a key component of any novel. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, I'll be attending her masterclass.
The workshops run from 9:30-12:30 am, leaving plenty of time for the daily homework assignments and exploring Madison. I'm excited to be attending, even though the last-minute nature of the decision means I have to have a polished first fifty pages, a novel synopsis, and a scene-by-scene of the first fifty pages ready to go by the end of the week.
Writing last month didn't go as planned. However, the deadline and format encouraged me to delve into my thesis novel and a second novella that I had been working on. I've made some deep improvements on those, and identified problems that should keep me busy until the next Camp session.
In retrospect, had I chosen a slightly easier goal than the November 50k, I would have made it. I managed to write 35k words despite a terrible week-long migraine that I'm still battling and a host of other commitments. However, even though being a "winner" would have made me feel accomplished, I had to confront the fears that prevented me from working on these revisions in the first place. Doing that is more valuable than any "winning" that Nano could have given me.
I decided to do Camp this April quite late. I think that if I had had more time to plan in March, my word count goals would have been more achievable. Although NaNoWriMo encourages you to dive in and just spew words everywhere, I'm never comfortable with that, and I found myself needing to spend time planning that could have otherwise gone to writing. (Yes, the point is to produce words, but I felt naked without some of that groundwork, like a person lost in a cave without a map.)
My goal for May and June--besides to survive some tumultuous personal issues--is to have a working blueprint in hand for further revisions once I have gone through both works.
If anyone needs an eager Camp cabin-mate in July, I'd be happy to group up with people. Often, cabin camaraderie starts out tentative and then fizzles out after the first few days. I'd like a cabin full of encouragement, activity, and inspiration.