Friday, June 11, 2010

Sewanee Writers' Conference

I got a bit of very good news last week when the Sewanee Writers' Conference offered me a fellowship. I love Sewanee. I've been to a lot of conferences and it is my favorite (with Bread Loaf a close second). Not only is the faculty first rate and the other writers generally very talented (admission to the conference is extremely competitive), but also the staff are the nicest people in the world. Really.

I first went to Sewanee in 2004, the year after I received my MFA. It was my first big conference (I'd been to Under the Volcano in Mexico that January) and I didn't know what to expect. I requested and was assigned to Richard Bausch's workshop, which he team taught with Jill McCorkle. It was fantastic. Bausch gave me advice on a novel that still hasn't quite recovered, but I think it was sound advice. Terrific experience.

I started publishing short stories and so when I applied again, in 2006, I received a scholarship. That year I got into John Casey's workshop, co-taught with Claire Messud. Again, fantastic.

The conference almost never awards two scholarships in the same genre to the same person, so in 2008 when I wanted to go again I applied and went as a participant. That year I had a mind-blowing experience working with Tim O'Brien, who was extraordinarily helpful. If I hadn't already been a Sewanee fan, that would have made the sale for sure.

Finally, this year, because my book came out in 2009, I was eligible to apply for a fellowship for the 2010 conference. (I only seem to apply in even years, but the conference really does happen every summer.) So I applied and held by breath because I wanted it so much. And I got it. Much cheering in my house when I got the word. And the conference yesterday posted online the bios of the fellows and scholars. I'm truly honored to be included in this bunch, and I can't wait for the conference to begin on July 13.


Anonymous said...

Been reading your blog regularly since the beginning of last year but never commented. Too lazy. Then again, most times I agree with you.

I also agree with your rants about the late mailings of the NY. And then today, right after I read your cranky post, I go to get the mail and my Fiction Issue comes in! Early! (Or, on time)

Just curious: I always thought the fiction issue included four stories. This year's issue has double that! I've only been a subscriber since '07, is 8 stories in the Fiction issue something rare?

P. Folly Reader

Anonymous said...

Congratulations - very, very well deserved.

Clifford Garstang said...

Usually 3 or 4, yes. So 8 is a lot. I hope they're worth the trouble.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

@thanks half-life! :)

katrina said...

Congratulations, Cliff. You deserve the honor!

Jim said...


Congratulations. It's well deserved.

I've been reading your blog for several months now, it will be nice to meet you.

I'm going as a participant and still keep waiting for them to send me the email saying that they made a mistake.


Ann Graham said...


Clifford Garstang said...

@Kat -- Thanks! Have fun at that OTHER conference!

@Jim -- Thanks, and please find me to say hello in Sewanee! It's going to be fun.

@Ann -- Thanks!

James Ladd Thomas said...

Hey Cliff,

I was in that workshop in 2004 with Richard Bausch and Jill McCorkle. Not sure if you remember me, but I remember you. I agree that Sewanee is the best; I've been to Bread Loaf twice and Southampton. I'm applying for a scholarship this year, really hoping I can go. I'm looking forward to reading your collection. I published a novel a couple of years ago, Ardor. Really happy to see you are doing well.

James Thomas

Cliff Garstang said...

James, good luck with your scholarship application! I'm not going to the conference this year, but I am going to Rivendell in May. I'm sure you'll hear about that -- it's a writers retreat near Sewanee.

I've moved this blog to my website, so check it out at Clifford Garstang