Ah, the joys of summer in Arkansas. Weekends at the lake, lazy evenings on the back porch, and resolving that character development flaw between chapters five and seven of your first novel.
So maybe a writers’ workshop is not everyone’s idea of a fun summer activity. But for some people, there is something alluring about escaping to a secluded area to devote themselves fully to sorting their thoughts out on paper.
Arkansas boasts an assortment of places that welcome aspiring writers during the summer months, beginning with the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, which has been around since 2000.
A picture-perfect cluster of houses in a wooded valley just down the hill from downtown Eureka Springs, the Writers Colony offers freedom and isolation year-round, but summer is the most competitive time.
“The problem with summer, is that’s when people want to come,” said Steven White, the colony coordinator. “We get a lot of people in academia, so summer is pretty booked. There are a couple of openings, and occasionally we have cancellations, so there are some summer opportunities, but not a lot.”
Writers can choose to stay for periods of time ranging from two weeks to three months, and fees are based on the colony’s assessment of each writer’s ability to pay, starting at a minimum of $25 a day. The colony provides a suite with a computer connection, but no television or telephone. (“We want to minimize all distractions,” White said.)
For every month a writer is in residence, he or she is asked to participate in a community outreach project organized by the colony. Usually it involves a reading or writing workshop.
Applications are accepted anytime via www.writerscolony.org, or call 479-253-7444.
The colony also hosts one-day workshops and other special events for writers throughout the summer.
Taking advantage of the spirit of Papa, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott will host the Creative Writing Retreat for Adults from June 13-17.
Yes, Ernest Hemingway lived here, but only sporadically, when he and his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway, would visit her family. He wrote portions of “A Farewell to Arms” in Piggott, and that alone should provide ample inspiration to the aspiring writer.
The retreat, in its fourth year, is designed to provide a “non-structured, non-threatening environment” for its participants, according to Deanna Webster, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer education coordinator.
“The whole goal is to help those people who are interested in writing to get published — if that’s what they want to do — or to improve their writing for their own personal fulfillment,” Webster said.
Most of the program, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is conducted by Dr. Robert Lamm, an English professor at Arkansas State University.
Anyone who is beyond high school-age can apply, but only 12 people will be accepted. The retreat costs $75 if the application is received by May 28. After that, the price goes up to $100. Lunch is provided daily, but lodging is not included.
A separate three-day retreat for students in grades 8-12 will take place June 20-22. It’s a similar program, but the kids get the afternoon off, so only a morning snack is included in the deal. The cost is $60 for applications received before May 28, and $80 after that.
For more information, visit hemingway.astate.edu, or call 870-598-3487.
Tt’s a sure bet that the specter of Hemingway never haunted the Holiday Inn Select in West Little Rock, so attendees of the Arkansas Writers’ Conference can’t be accused of being lured by the romantic environs.
Founded in 1944 as a joint enterprise of the Arkansas Pen Women and Arkansas Tech University, the conference has taken place at the Tech campus in Russellville and then Petit Jean Mountain before landing in Little Rock when Tech backed out several years ago.
“People come back year after year, so I’m sure they get some inspiration, some enthusiasm for writing,” said Barbara Longstreth Mulkey, the conference director.
This year, the two-day conference (June 3-4) will feature Pine Bluff native Laura Parker Castoro, a fiction writer, and Dusty Richards, author of over 65 novels.
The program also includes 35 writing contests, and the Pen Women will give away $2,000 in literary awards. Unfortunately, Apr. 30 was the entry deadline.
Registration costs $25 for both days if you pre-register, or $15 each day if you pay at the door. Call 312-1747 for more information.
A similar event is being organized by the White County Creative Writers, which will hold its 10th annual conference on the Harding University campus in Searcy on Sept. 3.
This year the conference features Carolyn Wall, the fiction editor for ByLine magazine in Edmond, Okla., who will conduct separate morning and afternoon sessions on various aspects of writing.
“The goal of the conference is to get people who are interested in writing, already writing, or maybe thinking about getting into it to share their experiences and help each other out,” said Christine Henderson, the organization’s secretary.
Registration for the conference costs $25, which includes a luncheon. Visit www.whitecountycreativewriters.org, or call 501-268-6426.
White County Creative Writers also will sponsor 10 writing contests in conjunction with the conference, but entry information will not be available on their website until June 1.
Teachers are the target audience for the Summer Invitational Institutes conducted by the Little Rock Writing Project and the National Writing Project of Central Arkansas.
Conducted July 5-28 on the UALR campus and June 20-July 15 on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas, respectively, the institutes are designed for professional advancement and personal development.
Any teacher in Arkansas, from kindergarten to university-level, is eligible to participate, but the application deadline was April 30. Luckily, there are three other shorter institutes available.
The Open Institute is a one-week session from June 27-July 1 that focuses on writing in the subject areas for teachers. Registration is open until May 27.
A national board certification workshop will be held June 13-17, and an Advanced Institute (for people who already have completed the four-week institute) will take place July 18-22.
For more information on the Little Rock institute, call 569-8022. For the Central Arkansas institute, visit www.uca.edu/org/cawp or call 501-450-3340.