Last week, the Collegeville Institute hosted Revision, Christian Spirituality, and the Writing Life, its first summer onsite writing workshop of 2017. Participants had 10 days to settle into a rhythm of personal writing and revision time in the morning and afternoon group workshops facilitated by Lauren Winner. Workshop participants came prepared to revise a long essay or two, a substantial portion of a book, or an entire book manuscript. The primary focus was on the revision process and on the architecture of a 40,000-80,000 word book.
Workshop participants appreciated focus on revision. When asked about what will stick with them after they leave, a participant mentioned the “process of reverse outlining to arrive at an honest assessment about what is on the page (versus what is in the writer’s mind). I am freed by the validation that one should be able to defend the presence/function of every paragraph, sentence, word.”
They also enjoyed Lauren’s teaching. One participant noted: “It’s hard for me not to gush. Lauren is punctual, strong, witty, commanding, and powerful, but … she is a servant. It’s clear she could wrestle every one of our manuscripts to the ground and beat them black and blue, but what she really and truly wants to do is help us learn to write stronger, healthier prose. The writing exercises were lively and creative, like little literary firestarters; her instruction on the structure and architecture of a book tied seamlessly with her instruction about words, sentences, and voice. This seems like a first-rate MFA-level seminar from a generous, masterful instructor. It’s a lot for my little brain to take in. But I will go home with a new set of tools and a much, much stronger sense of the task before me.”