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.