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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Visiting Brigadoon

Vermont College of Fine Arts

Steve and I returned ear­li­er this week from Mont­pe­lier, Ver­mont, where we spoke at the Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts, specif­i­cal­ly to the alum­ni of their Writ­ing for Chil­dren and Young Adults MFA pro­gram. We were there to talk about “Mar­ket­ing as Sto­ry­telling,” with the goal of mak­ing these typ­i­cal­ly intro­vert­ed writ­ers feel more com­fort­able about tout­ing their books. Mar­ket­ing is all part of the busi­ness of writ­ing, espe­cial­ly in these times when the social media cacoph­o­ny makes it hard­er to be heard.

We’ve heard about this pro­gram at VCFA for years. A num­ber of our col­leagues are fac­ul­ty mem­bers and a num­ber of our clients have grad­u­at­ed from this col­lege. Did it live up to the many lauda­to­ry state­ments we’ve lis­tened to? The grad­u­ates speak about the school as though these are hal­lowed halls. What is it that cre­ates their reac­tion?

On our dri­ve back to Boston to take the plane home, Steve and I talked about this. We over­heard the fac­ul­ty and staff refer­ring to them­selves as Brigadoon through­out the three days we were there. Are you famil­iar with that leg­end? The city in Scot­land that appears for only one day every one hun­dred years? A step out­side of time? A haven for good and tal­ent­ed peo­ple? 

Set among the ver­dant hills of Ver­mont, the College’s build­ings are arranged around a green grass plaza, a place where dogs catch Fris­bees and foun­tains bur­ble and trees shade stu­dents who are writ­ing, read­ing, and con­vers­ing. 

Stu­dents in the WCYA pro­gram are enrolled in a low-res­i­den­cy pro­gram, mean­ing that they work in their homes and come togeth­er twice a year on the cam­pus to lis­ten to and work direct­ly with fac­ul­ty and vis­it­ing speak­ers. They get to know the oth­er stu­dents in their class, all of whom are work­ing toward the com­mon goal of hav­ing sus­tain­able pub­lish­ing careers. They spend ten days togeth­er in the sum­mer and ten days in the win­ter (anoth­er pop­u­lar time in ski­able Ver­mont) and then they fade away to their own homes, inspired once again to work intent­ly on improv­ing their writ­ing and sto­ry­telling tech­niques.

Brigadoon? Yes. The spell fell upon us, too. What a charm­ing place to learn your craft, to strive toward being the best writer you can be. We look for­ward to great books from the men and women we met dur­ing our brief sojourn. We’re con­fi­dent we’ll be read­ing them soon.

10 Responses to Visiting Brigadoon

  1. Ann Jacobus June 21, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    Hi Vic­ki, your and Steve’s pre­sen­ta­tion at VCFA was super! Thanks for com­ing to Brigadoon and enlight­en­ing us.

    • Vicki Palmquist June 22, 2016 at 6:29 am #

      Thank you, Ann! It was a plea­sure to meet you and hear your fine intro­duc­tion. Hope your own pre­sen­ta­tion went well.

  2. Joyce Ray June 22, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    Hi Vicky, you and Steve are pas­sion­ate about help­ing authors achieve their goals, and it came through loud and clear dur­ing your ter­rif­ic pre­sen­ta­tion. I so appre­ci­at­ed your avail­abil­i­ty to all of us, lunchtime con­ver­sa­tions and beyond. Thank you for your ded­i­ca­tion and love of books for young read­ers! I love the way you’ve described VCFA in this post.

    • Vicki Palmquist June 23, 2016 at 6:46 am #

      Thank you, Joyce. It was good to spend those days see­ing the envi­ron­ment and the cama­raderie for our­selves.

  3. Ann Angel June 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m glad you could expe­ri­ence that mag­ic that is VCFA. It was a life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence for me as a writer and human being.

    • Vicki Palmquist June 23, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      Ann, it makes me hap­py to know that you’re one of the alum­ni. Read­ers (and stu­dents) ben­e­fit from the craft you honed at VCFA.

  4. Bobbi Miller June 22, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    So very sor­ry I missed see­ing you! Brigadoon–what a won­der­ful anal­o­gy! I bet this was an amaz­ing talk! Thank you for all that you do for children’s lit­er­a­ture!

    • Vicki Palmquist June 23, 2016 at 6:52 am #

      We were for­tu­nate enough to share a meal with Karen Gren­cik, Bob­bi. Your ears should have been burning–all pos­i­tive sen­ti­ments were shared. We’re impressed with her!

  5. Margo Sorenson (@ipapaverison) June 23, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    Vic­ki, it sounds won­der­ful, and I know you and Steve were def­i­nite­ly “val­ue-added” to the par­tic­i­pants’ expe­ri­ence. Thank you for mak­ing the trip and for shar­ing your exper­tise and love for kidlit!

    • Vicki Palmquist June 24, 2016 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks, Mar­go! It was a live­ly envi­ron­ment, that’s for sure. Lots of inten­si­ty for cre­at­ing good books to read.

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