Brainstorming for a SLF Workshop

Hey, SF/F writer folks. Workshop brainstorming help?

So, one thing we’ve been talking about is setting up a SLF workshop in the Chicago area. It might eventually evolve to something like Clarion, 6 weeks in length, but for now, we’re figuring we’ll start smaller. We’re hoping all American adults who want to be vaccinated will be by end of May, so tentatively looking at July for holding this. We’ve done a long weekend workshop before, and are considering a 10-day option.

I’d love some early feedback — does this sound appealing to you, what format would you be looking for, etc. Consider this early brainstorming / survey of community needs — all thoughts welcome. Some questions:

a) FORMAT: Are you interested in a short fiction workshop, novel workshop, or both?

b) LENGTH: Are you interested in a long weekend (Fri – Mon) or a 10-day workshop (Fri to following Sunday), or both?

c) RETREAT: Would you like the option of attending as a retreat, rather than participating in the workshop? (Retreat option would cost less; you’d join us for meals and socializing, but otherwise be on your own with a quiet room to work in.)

d) INSTRUCTION: I’m planning to facilitate, possibly with Jed Hartman as co-facilitator. Would you like guest agents and/or guest editors and/or guest pro writers flown in from New York, etc., or have us stick to what Chicago has available? (Note, each one of those we add will bump the cost.) Chicago has lots of great writing teachers and editors, but they’re less likely to specialize in SF/F, so factor that in.

e) LOCATION: We’d actually be hosting the workshop in Oak Park, just outside Chicago. Easy walk to the train (or we can run you over if needed) and a 20-minute train ride to get into the city to visit the Art Institute, etc., and lots of local attractions too, especially if you’re into architecture, like the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. Fabulous food options in the city, if that’s your jam.

f) HOUSING: There’s a hotel nearby, numerous bed-and-breakfast, and AirBnb options. My inclination is to let people sort that out on their own, with us providing a list of options, as I don’t think there’s a great option for putting you all up together, and expecting that most people will spend most of their time hanging out at Serendib House (where we have lots of options for creative space). We may be able to provide some financial aid re: housing for people in need, and/or crash space from local hosts. Any thoughts on housing welcome.

g) FOOD: We’d provide continental breakfast, simple sandwich fixings for lunch, and communal dinner (cooked by me) during the workshop at Serendib House. Happy to support people’s food needs, but the kitchen is not celiac-or-other-serious-allergen-safe, so we’d have to plan appropriately on that front — we can probably do safe takeout if needed, but I’d have to research more. If people wanted to go out and grab lunch at a local restaurant, there are lots of great options, and we’d provide a list. Thoughts welcome on meal planning.

h) SIZE: We’re thinking we’ll cap workshop size somewhere in the 12-15 person range. Thoughts welcome on that.

i) ACCESS: The house is an old Victorian, with several steps to the front door. We can get a ramp if needed, I think (have to research), but the first floor bathroom doorway is too narrow to be wheelchair accessible. We want SLF events to be accessible generally, so our thought is that if we have a potential attendee who wouldn’t find the house accessible, we’ll switch locations (probably to Pleasant Home nearby), which would also entail changing meal planning (probably still breakfast and lunch on-site, with dinners out). There’d be a significant charge for that, but the SLF can cover it as part of our commitment to access (thank you to our generous donors!), so we wouldn’t pass that on to workshop participants. Thoughts on access welcome.

j) LEVEL: Are you interested in a beginner, intermediate, or advanced workshop? (Beginner is for true beginners — no experience necessary. Intermediate, you’ve been writing and maybe sending out and possibly even publishing a few stories, and want to develop your skills further. Advanced, you’re publishing at a pro level, and want to really dig in with a group of peers.)

Okay, that’s a lot of brainstorming thoughts. Chime in, please!

This is a link to the 2017 workshop, if you’d like to look at how that was set up:…/


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