What You Want To Do, And How We’re Going To Do It

The survey results are in. Thanks very much to everyone who took the time to fill it out. The long and short of it is: you want more writing retreats, more professional writers giving classes and workshops, and you’d like to have a chance to talk to agents. There are other things on the list as well: more weekend workshops, more seminars on elements of craft like the workshops we held on Saturdays in November, and a return of the BWW book club. I’ll have more specific numbers for you soon.

In general, if it’s free, we can definitely do it with volunteer facilitators, so please get in touch if you’d like to make one of these things happen.

The top priorities cost money, though, so the financial advisory committee and I have worked out a budget that’ll help us make these things happen. These things will be in addition to the things we already do. So let me start this pitch by saying:

We’re trying to raise $5,000 this month.

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It may sound big, but it’s doable. Here’s a breakdown of what your tax-deductible contribution will pay for.

Retreats: The number one priority for you was more writing retreats. You’ll get them! We’ve done a few, but more are needed, and it’s likely we’ll have to rent one or two of the venues. It’ll also be nice to not have to worry about preparing food during the retreat. After all, we’re supposed to be writing, not worrying about the little details of life! That’s what a retreat is for. They’ll be free and we’ll all have an equal shot at attending one (or more). So we’re estimating the price tag will be $1,500.

Professional Writers: You said you wanted more published authors to join us for workshops and hold classes. We can do this. However, it’s going to take some cash to bring them in. I can’t reveal in public how much we’ve budgeted for this because it will compromise our ability to negotiate fees, but I’m happy to answer your questions privately.

Agents: We decided that we can’t do this unless we raise $8,000 this month instead of $5,000. We believe this is unlikely to happen, but you never know kind of angel donors will drop down and save us. It would likely cost around $3,000 to fly agents from NYC and LA to Vermont, put them in hotels, feed them, and pay them for their time. So we’ll shelve this item unless an generous donor comes down and gifts us with an enormous sum.

These new things would be in addition to the things we normally pay for:

The Workshop Space: We rely on those automatic monthly contributions to help us pay for this space. We’re hoping you can come through and make automatic contributions of $12 or $20 a month to help keep this place open. I am very thankful for everyone who already does this, but we need more help. Can you join this team of “sustaining members” and help pay the rent?

Mud Season Review: The MSR staff is doing a great job raising funds through our “paid review” feature on Submittable, but the costs are large: AWP, Submittable, marketing, website hosting, and printing. Our goal is to make Mud Season Review one of the best literary journals in the country, and with our brilliant volunteer staff and adequate funding, we can make it happen.

So here comes my personal appeal. I spend an average of 20 hours each week on workshop-related stuff. It’s an enormous amount of work. But I love doing it. Love love love it. “Work” doesn’t seem like the right word to describe it, because it’s so much fun. You are the best bunch of people I’ve ever known: generous, thoughtful, kind, ambitious, and smart. This kind of thing couldn’t happen anywhere but Vermont, where the community spirit is unusually strong. I’m also especially grateful that when I decided to sign a lease for our workshop space, you stepped up and helped pay for it. Thank you all very much.

My hope now is that you’ll come together now and help us reach this important goal. I’ll update you regularly as we get closer to reaching our goal. Make your contribution now. Thanks very much, everyone.