Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Bread Loaf Reflections
Bread Loaf was a wonderful experience. Despite the mice in the cabin. And my stubbed toe. The mountain campus is beautiful and I wish I had spent more time than I did just exploring the woods and back roads. I’ll have to go back. Although there is some hierarchy among the participants, and a special “clubhouse” for Faculty and Fellows, my feeling was that there was far more interaction among the “classes” than there was at Sewanee last year. For example, I attended two of the readings by contributors, one in the Barn and one in the Little Theater (both large venues) and at both there were many others present including faculty, fellows and scholars. At Sewanee, the open mic readings attracted zero attention from faculty and fellows. Bread Loaf also offered some outstanding extra craft classes. I had sessions with Steve Almond, Daniel Wallace and others in these small sessions, on top of the regular lectures and readings. But the workshop experience was the real highlight, as it should be, and was somewhat less intensive than the Sewanee workshops. Not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy working with Charles Baxter, who was very helpful in pointing the way toward needed revisions in my story, but at Sewanee the workshops are team-taught. This meant that not only did I get feedback there from Richard Bausch (on 60 pages of work), but also from Jill McCorkle, Bausch’s workshop participants and McCorkle’s workshop participants (on 30 pages of work). So there was quite a bit more reading and critiquing involved at Sewanee, and many more voices. I think, possibly, the quality of the work in my Sewanee workshop was also somewhat higher than the work in Bread Loaf, but that’s hard to judge with any certainty.
What I am certain of is that the experience was very worthwhile, and I hope to go back.