Friday, February 15, 2008

7 People Who Would Benefit from Misque

Who would benefit most from Misque?

You want to publish a novel - This is the most basic requirement to attend Misque. You want to publish a novel and you've actually started to write it. That bit's the trick, which unfortunately disqualifies most would-be novelists. If you have a great idea for a book, but you haven't written anything yet, don't lose hope. There are plenty of good writer's retreats, conferences, workshops and how-to-write books out there to help you out as you write your book. If you have a substantial draft, on the other hand, you will benefit greatly from Misque's program, which involves taking a look at a manuscript chapter by chapter and scene by scene to evaluate and strengthen plot, characterization and structure. If you're having dreaded word count problems, we'll offer advice on where your book seems too thin or too thick. We will also be able to help you identify agents and editors who accept submissions in your novel's genre, then craft the perfect query letter to approach them professionally.

You've just graduated with an MFA degree (or are considering taking college level creative writing) - Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe your MFA degree program spent a lot of time focusing on the commercial aspects of establishing a writing career. But if your MFA program was like anything like my Master's program, just the opposite was the case. You probably spent an awful lot of time parsing postmodern interpretations of obscure literary critiques of semiotic deconstructions, etc, etc. To the extent financial considerations were discussed, it was probably mainly to decry filthy lucre. To the extent commercial literature was discussed, it was probably mainly to deride the plebeian tastes of the masses. That's all very well, but it doesn't help you make a living from your writing. Most fiction writers sell genre literature, but even if you want to sell erudite literary fiction, you still have to know the market and how to present your work in a professional manner to agents and editors. You'll learn more practical, hands-on tips to enter the writing business in one week of Misque than in a four year MFA program.

You're retiring, but still aspiring - You're a boomer, but though you may be retiring soon, you won't be slowing down. You'll just finally have a chance to do some of the things you've had to put aside until now. Like publishing your novel! Maybe you've been working on it for years, or maybe you just wrote one, perhaps in a genre you've long enjoyed, or perhaps inspired by your own experiences. Either way, don't let anyone tell you you're too old to start a writing career! That's the great thing about writing. Age doesn't matter to the page. Many career writers started late in life -- as a second or even a third career -- and still went on to establish a reputation for themselves.

Other seniors go on cruises. Hey, we've got nothing against cruises. Cruises inspired us for Misque. Misque is like a cruise for your mind. Your body will be pampered while your mind is challenged. This is the time to make your dream of being an author come true.

You're changing careers - There may be a few of you out there who aren't boomers, but are also in between careers. Make this challenge into an opportunity to explore all the options. Have you ever really wanted to make writing your career? Have you considered investing in launching your writing career, just as you would in any other business? Misque is an investment, but not an unreasonable one, for someone who wants to know, is this really a career I have a chance to make a living in? You could do everything we do at Misque on your own, but it would probably take you years, because instead of a concentrated environment, you'll be working it around your day job. Again. Instead of toiling alone in stolen hours, launch yourself into a new career with kickoff period which comes complete with a network of supportive colleagues and crit partners to keep you going after the week is over.

You've a NaNoWriMo Winner - Congratulations! You won National Novel Writing Month, which means you've proven you can do the hardest part of a novelist's job -- actually write a novel length manuscript. It may be that you've completed your book, or it may be that 50,000 words has only brought you half-way through your plot. Either way, you know that when push comes to shove, you have it in you write a novel. Now that you have the novel, though, what are you going to do with it? During NaNoWriMo, you weren't too concerned with the quality of the writing, only the quantity. Now is a good time to come to Misque to have another pair of eyes -- better yet, several other pairs of eyes -- take a look at what you've written, chapter by chapter, line by line. They won't love it as much as you do, but guess what, they won't hate it as much as you do, either! (All novelists develop this love/hate relationship with their novels, I suspect.) Yes, they'll see some weak spots, but they may also see the strengths that can help you polish this rough draft into a publishable work.

What if you participated in NaNoWriMo, but didn't quite finish 50,000 words? Should you still come to Misque? That depends on you. Do you have a compete or near complete draft of a novel, which you happened to write in October or July rather than December? (Frankly, Thanksgiving is not a good time for me to write, and I haven't won NaNoWriMo yet myself!) Or maybe you're the kind of writer who just likes to edit as you go along, so you're slower to write a draft, but have less revisions to do. Definitely, you should still bring your manuscript to Misque!

You're thinking of self-publishing your novel - There are many reasons you may be thinking of self-publishing your novel. Maybe you really just want your novel published, and at this point, you're not concerned fits the pigeon holes of the book industry. Anyone considering self-publishing should definitely attend Misque. It's the next best thing to having a staff of hired editors pour over your manuscript before it goes to print, and yet you still retain full control over what do after it's polished. You may change your mind, and decide to give the traditional publishing world one more try, armed as you'll be with a list of agents and editors who might be interested in your novel. Or you may go ahead and self-publish, armed with a terrific new arsenal of book promoting techniques which will help your book stand out from the herd.

Freelance / Technical Writer / Journalist - If you use writing in your day job, there's good news and bad news. The good news is, you have honed your writing skills. Fiction isn't exactly the same as non-fiction -- a novel is much harder to sustain than an article -- but superb word craft will help in both. Agents and editors know this too, so you have another leg up when it comes to write about your experience in your query letter. So what's the problem? It may be that after spending all day writing for your "real" work, you don't have the mental energy to really devote to your novel. It's hard to give yourself the time you need to write the next chapter, revise a weak section or push to the end of 90,000 word manuscript when you know you could get paid for the next 1000 you write if you focus on nonfiction instead.

If you're serious about fiction, you have to treat it as seriously as your nonfiction. Most of all, you have to allow yourself a time to focus exclusively on your novel, and not have your "day job" writing gnawing at your creative energy. The week of Misque is a perfect opportunity for you set aside all your other writing and give your novel the attention it deserves -- with no competition, distraction or guilty feeling you should be working on a "real" project. Your novel is a real project. Give it the attention it deserves.

Didn't see yourself here, but you have a manuscript, you want to be a writer and you're interested in Misque? Don't be shy, let me know your situation, maybe Misque is still right for you.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply, email the Misque coordinator at

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website:

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