There was sun at Wildacres and two glorious days of breezy weather after the heat of the first day . . .
The patio draws the contemplative types during the day . . . and the party animals at night.
One attends classes either morning or afternoon. When students aren't in class, they can sit in on other classes, hike, nap, catch up with friends from last year, or maybe even do some writing. That is, if they aren't practicing for a skit later in the week.
There are faculty readings on two nights and student readings on two more nights.
This is my class (minus one) below -- Commercial Fiction. On the last night of camp, there is the traditional Gong Show in which serious writers get very silly indeed. We did a skit called Very Commercial Fiction, in which, among other things, we counseled Jane Austen on how to write a best seller.
J.A. (very shy): Is this the right class? My name is Austen, Jane Austen and I’m writing a comedy of manners about young women looking for husbands and-
STUDENT 3: Yeah, yeah, chick lit – great, you’ve come to the right place – we can help you.
STUDENT 5: Janie, sweetheart, first of all, what are the clothes like in your novel? Tight, and sexy, lots of cleavage? . . . Jimmy Choo stilettos-
JA (shocked) Stilettos? No, I’m afraid not. My characters wear flat slippers or half boots when they go walking and there is no cleavage – they wear fichus.
STUDENT 3: Gesundheit! STUDENT 4: Bless you!
JA: No, fichus, (pointing to her own) gauzy little-
STUDENT 5: Yeah, yeah – listen, Janie, lose the fichus. And walking? No, no, no – your protag has to have a sexy ride – a Beemer or maybe a Minicooper or-
VICKI: What’s your working title?
JA: I’m calling it Pride and Prejudice.
VICKI: Ooh, interracial romance – that could be nice- Lose the Pride though -- let's go with Passion and Prejudice? That’ll grab ‘em.
You probably had to be there. . .
It rained a lot -- but spirits were not dampened. Below is the dining hall very early. Normally all the tables are full. (There were around 80 campers plus faculty and staff -- almost a hundred altogether.)
Breakfast is buffet style, lunch and dinner are family style with the food already on the tables. Everyone is encouraged to sit at a different table each time so we can get to know others than just those in our class.
All the classes are 'workshops' -- which is to say the students submit 15 pages for the teacher and the others in the class to read and critique before coming to Wildacres.
Then, during the classes, these pages are thoroughly discussed . . . and the writers may learn several things from the wisdom of the group: my class learned that their stories may actually need to begin on page ten. They may be giving us way too much information (back story) at the expense of the action. We may dislike their main character . . . or not be sure who the main character is.
It sounds harsh -- especially to the beginners in the class (there were some and they did fine, really!) but most students feel they've learned a lot -- not only from the workshopping of their own pages but from studying the other submissions.
And there's always the consolation of hanging out with brilliant students and faculty -- including Ron Rash, whose best-selling novel Serena is being made into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence (recently star of The Hunger Games.)
We arrive on Saturday and by Tuesday it seems as if we've always been here and it will go on forever. By Thursday, however, events are sliding by in a blur and all too soon it's Saturday morning and time to say goodbye to Wildacres.
It's a great experience.