2018 Workshop Archive

Norman Mailer understood the importance of the written word and devoted his life to it. He participated in many writing conferences, met and corresponded with countless young writers and encouraged them to be the best they could be. The vision of the Center and the Colony is as wide and as varied as Mailer’s vision as a writer.

The Center and the Colony offers workshops that explore what Mailer called “the spooky art of writing” and the unique ways writers apply their art to their own creative narratives.

Among the Center’s faculty of educators and writers are many whom not only personally knew and worked with Mailer over a number of years. but discussed and even debated with him how those skills of writing can and should be applied. In 2014 the workshops took place in Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah and all classes were limited to five attendees.

The Norman Mailer Center is currently not accepting applications for the Norman Mailer Colony Workshops. 

The following 2018 Norman Mailer Colony Workshops were held on the Wilkes University campus in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

July 29 – August 3, 2018 August 4 – August 10, 2018
Memoir with Beverly Donofrio Fiction with Jacquelyn Mitchard
Fiction with Marita Golden Book Reviews with Maureen Corrigan
Publishing with Philip Brady Screenwriting with Ross Klavan
Poetry with Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr Publishing with Philip Brady
Nonfiction with J. Michael Lennon Poetry with Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr
Marketing for Writers with Donna Talarico Playwriting with Juanita Rockwell

Memoir with Beverly Donofrio

Put pen to paper—or fingers to the keyboard—in this writing workshop with master memoirist Beverly Donofrio.

Discover the life-changing potential of memoir writing in a workshop designed to take you deeper into your hearts and your pasts. Instructor Beverly Donofrio creates a supportive environment to help mine and then develop your material. Telling your stories can be profound and transformative. All that is required is a strong desire and the courage to write the truth.

Through the in-class prompts, overnight assignments, and sharing our work, we not only learn craft, but develop camaraderie and have fun. We may even find that what made us rage and cry now makes us laugh.  Keep writing and you may even forgive life for being life.

And throughout, we will have an ongoing discussion of the writing life and how to feed it outside of a workshop.

Elements of Fiction:  Crisis Conflict Character with Marita Golden

This fiction workshop will focus on the foundational elements of compelling fiction. As we discuss your in progress work, and do in-class exercises you’ll learn how to give your characters “character”, how to push them past the limits you impose on them and how to create characters who can both hurt and heal. For those writing novels and short fiction.

Publishing with Philip Brady

Ever wanted to start your own press or literary magazine?  Or are you struggling as a fledgling editor or publisher to make yours work and gain more ground in the literary landscape? This course will also give you a hands-on insider’s look at the way publishing companies work. Working with Etruscan Press, a non-profit literary press that has produced over seventy-five titles in five genres since 2001, this course will focus on how to produce and market books/journals, zines, and how to run a publishing house in an increasingly competitive environment. We’ll explore editorial styles, marketing plans, production schedules, budgeting, design, and event-planning. We’ll look at the publishing models from a close perspective, always returning to practical questions such as: “How do things work?” “How can I understand the process from author-to-consumer?” “What is the right place for me in this diverse and challenging industry?”

Poetry with Rashidah Ismaili Abubakr

We will start at the beginning, with poems that have been selected by participant a start of a book of poems. We will discuss the various concepts of producing poems; chapbook, collection, themed, with or without visuals and look at organizing tools that can lead to a coherent body of work. Poems will be edited and newly written then workshopped during the sessions.

Creative Nonfiction: Types and Techniques with J. Michael Lennon

Following a brief survey of the wide variety of forms that can be fairly called creative nonfiction (memoir, various essay types, travel and place writing, reviews, narrative history, autobiography, and biography), will be a discussion of five elements of craft common to all types of creative nonfiction: imagery, voice and point of view, character, setting, and story. The session will also examine the blurred boundary lines with other genres.

Marketing Planning for Writers, Online and Off: Promotion, Publicity & More with Donna Talarico

Marketing and communication planning is a crucial component to the working writer today. In this session, you’ll learn the basics of building a marketing plan, from setting SMART goals to analyzing your success. Then we’ll dive deeper into the many tactics you can use, from making connections with the media and brand ambassadors to get coverage — reviews, feature stories, etc. — to running successful events and from managing your online persona to interacting with readers in digital spaces. We’ll cover everything from Facebook pages and blogging to email marketing and social ads.

This session will give you a high-level overview of the tools and techniques you can use to market your work, from promoting a single book to building general awareness for yourself as an author and expert in your field. We’ll have in-class exercises to help you spark some ideas of where and how to promote your work — no matter where you are with your project, this will be helpful in big-picture planning! Simply put: You have a great idea — this session is about shooting that from the rooftops so others can share — and enjoy — your vision.

The Closer Class: A Workshop on How to Finish Your Book with Jacquelyn Mitchard

You have a great concept. You know what you want to write. You know how you want to write it. You may even have a great start. But you’re afraid that you’ll mess with this thing for the rest of your life and it will never see publication.

This workshop help you finally complete your fiction project – and help you discover what to do next on the path to publication,

without sacrificing artistic integrity or neglecting the need to have a real life.

Some critical questions about structure, contents, and even intention are key to writing a book you can actually finish. And there are some elements you may not have considered.

Bring pages to share in a full, frank, and nurturing critique with your fellow writers and be prepared to be overwhelmed by information – in a good way.

Writing Book Reviews and Breaking into that Market with Maureen Corrigan 

How does one claim the cultural authority to become a book reviewer? After all, there are no dedicated graduate programs or certificates in “book reviewing”; nor is there a clear route to regular reviewing. In this course, Maureen Corrigan, who has been the book critic for the NPR program Fresh Air for thirty years, explores some of the pathways to book review publication and discusses the intellectual background and the skills that it takes to write a worthwhile review. She also gives some advice about what never to do in a book review.

Screenwriting with Ross Klavan

Screen language will go deeply into how to get your vision—and your story—onto any kind of screen. Through a variety of exercises in class and as homework, we’ll begin by working through the nature of images, of film’s birth in still photography (instead of the novel or theater) and what subtly changes when the images begin to move. We’ll then shift into the structure of storytelling through images, both conventional and alternative, and the creation of characters whose life may begin on the page but will exist, through actors or animation, on some form of screen, large or small. A final project of a five-minute short or film segment will be written. There will be a personal meeting with the instructor on projects written in the course or previously. Proper format will be taught and the instruction will be assisted by examples  from films, TV episodes and script pages.

Playwriting with Juanita Rockwell.

From a dramatic pause to comic timing, space and silence are the ground for engaging language in plays, poetry, song and story. Writing is about forging a connection to presence through language, and habits of mind cut us off from an experience of Now. As writers, we swim in a sea of habit, cliché, and received narrative structure that derail us from creating our best work. In this workshop, we will learn to short-circuit those creative dead ends, reconnecting with the stillness, silence and spaciousness that is the natural home of art. We will alternate brief periods of contemplative practice with writing exercises designed to interrupt our habitual patterns of thinking and writing. In the resulting space of interruption, we can surprise ourselves with writing that is genuine, engaging and fully its own magnificent beast.

Participants will learn specific contemplative and energetic practices that can serve as an anchor for creating a daily writing practice, as well as work with prompts and exercises that can access the space and energy in our writing when the flow of our creative process gets stuck. This two-day workshop will focus on language meant to be heard, but writers working in all forms and genres can benefit.