The Writer Unboxed Un-Conference is unique.
Part symposium. Part networking affair. Part workshop. Part retreat.
Unlike other conferences, the Writer Unboxed UnConference  will not focus on the business of writing; there will be zero (zip, nada) sessions on finding agents or writing query letters or building platform. Instead, our focus will be exclusively on the things WU’ers crave most:
- Drilled-down, interactive conversations on craft led by trusted WU contributors–including gurus Donald Maass and Lisa Cron
- Topics to help you understand yourself better as a writer
- Time to interact with peers and group leaders in and outside of sessions, because everyone knows that the best part of a conference happens when the conversation begins
- Time to write
In other words, we’re going to lean on our strengths, the qualities that have made Writer Unboxed such a strong site and community. We’re going to empower you. But this time, we’re going to empower you in person.
Tell me more.
Our sessions will be an expansion of topics you’ll find in WU’s first book, Author in Progress :
- ON THE WORDS SESSIONS are all about the craft, with topics that go a level deeper than the norm. For example, you might join a session entitled “learn from the masters: emotional turning points” or “writing true external worlds.”
- BETWEEN THE LINES SESSIONS focus on things outside of the writing itself but that impact it. For example, you may join a session on “the writing life balance” or “how beta-readers can help evolve your work.”
- TWO HALF-DAY WORKSHOPS will be presented during the event: one by Lisa Cron on STORY GENIUS, the other by Donald Maass on UNBOXED CRAFT.
- EXTRAS are still evolving, but will include a “Night Write” at the historic House of the Seven Gables, morning meditations, “hot topic” lunch opportunities with session leaders, walking groups, bedtime stories, a flash fiction challenge, and more. All extras are optional for you to join or not, as you wish.
- WRITING SPACE will be made available to you throughout the event . Join for quiet group writing in the mornings (“morning coffee”), or anytime.
When and where?
The Writer Unboxed UnConference will kick off on Monday, November 7th in Salem, Massachusetts, and span the week, culminating in a workshop by Donald Maass on Friday, November 11th, and a wrap-up party. Sessions will take place in the Hawthorne Hotel’s Library and Ballroom, and at The House of the Seven Gables Visitors Center.
Intrigued? Wondering how we’ll juggle elements, Monday-Friday? The following is a rough look at our schedule.
- Monday: check-in between noon and 5 p.m. (EST), followed by a welcome dinner in the ballroom at the Hawthorne Hotel at ~6 p.m. Don’t worry about showing up early and having nothing to do. We’ll plan some ice-breaker activities for the afternoon, or if you’d rather you can always plug in and start writing.
- Tuesday: a mix of sessions, with the ability to choose between the ON THE WORDS and BETWEEN THE LINES tracks. Extras in development, but may include a storyteller’s meditation and “book therapy.”
- Wednesday: a panel discussion, followed by a four-hour workshop on STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron (with optional “cold lunch, hot topics”), afternoon sessions, an evening book signing, and extras TBD.
- Thursday: a morning walk, followed by a mix of sessions along our two tracks at the hotel and The House of the Seven Gables. “Night Write” after dinner.
- Friday: morning sessions followed by a four-hour workshop on UNBOXED CRAFT with Donald Maass (with optional “cold lunch, hot topics”), a final panel discussion, and a party in the ballroom.
How can I learn more?
Please visit our registration page, authorinprogress.eventbrite.com , to sign up and for even more information–including a list of FAQs. (Please check that page before asking questions here. Thank you!)
Registration will close once we’ve reached 115 registered attendees. (Due to early notice for 2014 attendees, we are currently at ~50 registered attendees.)
So, about that scholarship…?
The level of talent demonstrated in the pool of applicants for the Writer Unboxed Perseverance Scholarship  was remarkable. If you were one of those who applied, thank you for taking the time to do so and know you made our job difficult–in the best of ways. That said, there can only be one scholarship winner, and we can give her a name: Deborah Lacativa!
Deborah, your story of perseverance touched us, and the ability you demonstrated in your powerful five-page sample is undeniable. It’s our pleasure to award you a scholarship in the name of our good friend Writer Bob. We know he would’ve liked you, too.
The following short-answer responses are shared here with Deborah’s permission:
1. “What is your writing-related story of perseverance?”
Everyone wants to live forever. If you ask enough “whys” the answers all circle back around to that truth. We want to persevere. It’s no surprise that the desire to express that struggle creatively comes as naturally as breathing or breeding.
I learned the trick of shaping letters on the page early. My motive? To create a world of happiness and security unlike the one I inhabited. One where I called the shots, so I worked writing magic at every opportunity. To quote the novelist Earl Thompson, “A greater liar never had a gut.”
And then came the unexpected grace. I lucked into a partnership with a man who got me better than I got myself. That love – river deep and mountain high – was mine for more than half my years on the planet. I didn’t need to make up wonderful worlds, I lived them.
We lived, we loved, and tossed our genetic markers into the waters of the future. Two sons. A grandson. All of them well fitted and launched. And then the Wheel of Life turned and this man was taken from us and I was left behind astonished to find stories could still sustain me.
Our stories are our banners, our battle flags, and emissaries. They announce us before we come into a room, and set the expectations of all who know us. They will stand for us when we no longer can. Deep down, the hope is that our stories will linger beyond our corporeal selves.
So, when a story is called for, and a new teller steps up, even though the flesh of a story is no longer remembered, people will remember its bones. Our stories will persevere, even without us. Make it a fresh tale, well told.
2. What drives you to continue writing despite challenges?
I’ve always been my own Scheherazade, but only recently discovered that all her storytelling was in the service of delaying death at the hands of a tyrant. As a late-comer to writing fiction, I understand running out of time.
Each new morning, when I’m in that wonderland between sleep and waking, I review the sweet amalgam of memory, experience, and imagination that occurred while I was at ease and not steering my thoughts into the future. The need to write takes hold as discoveries and questions demand my attention; a tender notion or a darkly warning souvenir. I have been known to scribble on the sheets.
Writing gives me the opportunity to simultaneously escape and be acutely present. The payoff comes when sharing my work gives someone the same laughs, heart clenching chills or skin shivering pleasure that I experienced when I first wrote it.
Again, congratulations to Deborah, and thank you to everyone who applied!
WUers, we look forward to meeting as many of you as we can in Salem . Until then, write on!