Fall Creative Writing Conference


Each Fall, MTSU Write celebrates its mission by hosting the Creative Writing Conference on the MTSU campus.  The Conference brings together students, mentors, alumni, and members of the community for breakout sessions, a keynote, lunch, and graduation to recognize those students who have completed three trimesters with the program. 

We are pleased to announce this year's conference date, theme, and keynote speaker!

2019 Fall Conference

"Keep Going, Keep Growing" 

19 October 2019, 9 am-4 pm



Keynote speaker: Mary Laura Philpott

Mary Laura Philpott is an essayist whose writing appears in publications including The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Washington Post, O The Oprah Magazine, and others. Across her work, Mary Laura examines the overlap of the absurd and the profound in life, literature, and culture. 

I Miss You When I Blink is Mary Laura’s debut memoir, written in essays. It was named to the #1 spot on the Indie Next List by booksellers nationwide, and was chosen as a best or most anticipated book of 2019 by Esquire, BuzzFeedLit Hub, Southern Living, Bustle, The Millions and the Chicago Review of Books. Real Simple magazine called it “the one book you should read right now.” (Get a short snippet of it in The New York Times, read a review in The Washington Post, or listen to a conversation about it on NPR.)

Mary Laura is also the author and illustrator of the book Penguins with People Problems; the founding editor of MUSING, the digital magazine published by Parnassus Books; and an Emmy-award winning co-host of A Word on Words, a literary interview show on Nashville Public Television. She enjoys traveling around the country to speak with people about creativity, work, the ups and downs of perfectionism, reinvention, reading, and writing. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

Conference Schedule

Saturday, October 19, 2019
MTSU Student Union Building (second floor)
8:30-9 check in, continental breakfast
9:00 Welcome from Director
9:15-10:30 morning breakout sessions

"Exploring Form and Growing your Audience with Digital Literature"
Kendall Dunkelberg
In this workshop we will explore how authors can use social media, hypertext, maps, and other digital platforms to challenge narrative and lyric forms and reach new readers. Participants should bring a 1 or 2 page flash fiction or nonfiction piece or a poem about a place.

"Screenwriting: An Introduction"
Leland Gregory
This class explains the basics of screenplay formatting and writing. It is a hands-on session that introduces the dramatic structure of movie storytelling, discusses character arcs, and demonstrates plot points. Hopefully the session will take the fear out of starting the process of writing a screenplay and will be a fun, interactive, experience.

“Effort, Action, Truth: Performance Techniques to Activate Text”
David Ian Lee
Actors, directors, and theatrical craftspeople of all disciplines utilize various techniques to adapt the written word to the stage. Conversely, many of these same practices may be used by writers – novelists, playwrights and poets – to investigate and activate their own writing. In this immersive workshop, you will be exposed to theories of performance practitioners – including Constantin Stanislavski, Rudolf Laban, and Sanford Meisner – with the potential to transform dialogue and heighten dramatic action.

10:45-12 late morning breakout sessions

“Six Books in Three Years: Traditional Publishing Without an Agent”
Susan Cushman
Memphis author Susan Cushman will share her traditional publishing journey with six different independent publishers, including two
university presses. She will talk about how to find and query indie presses, working with editors, and marketing your books. Cushman’s six books, published in 2017, 2018, and 2019, include a memoir, a novel, a short story collection, and three anthologies of essays that she

"Your Life is a Play!"
Shawn Whitsell
Participants will learn and exercise the fundamentals of crafting a two-person scene or short play, based on a real life personal experience.

Poetry TBA
Ciona Rouse

12:00 Lunch
1:00 Keynote: Mary Laura Philpott

2:15-4:15 afternoon breakout sessions

"What Now? A Workshop on Workshopping"
Jane Marcellus
Giving and receiving feedback on work in progress is an important part of developing as a writer and taking part in the writing community.
It can be difficult, though, to know how to provide peers with useful insights. Sometimes those new to workshopping feel shy about critiquing at all; other times, they make comments that are harsh and judgmental. It can also be difficult to know how to listen to peers’ critiques.
This workshop will provide skills and practice in workshopping rough drafts. First, so that everyone has a draft to work with, we’ll do a short “free-write” exercise. We’ll then share these, using a four-step process, adaptable to most genres, that asks us to refrain from judgment
(positive or negative) in order to elicit stronger work. Participants with existing work may bring a short draft (up to three pages) to share.

"Harnessing Description: a Generative & Revision Workshop"
Amie Whittemore
In The Art of Description, Mark Doty explores the role of description in poetry and its ability to help us to engage with reality and convey
that engagement on the page. In this workshop, we’ll begin by reading excerpts and example poems from Doty’s book and trying out some writing exercises to flex our descriptive muscles. In the second half of the session, poets will share and discuss their own poems to explore how they might improve description in current drafts.

"Revising as Re-envisioning"
Catherine Moore
In this workshop, we will discuss the value of re-envisioning and work through specific techniques and strategies to imagine stronger
narratives. You’ll have the chance to step back and look at your story, identify points of possible re-envisioning, and select among offered
revision exercises to begin the process. While students may bring work they’d like to revise for reference, it is not required since we will
generate new ideas for characters and plotlines that should already be familiar to the writer. This workshop is designed for fiction writers,
or anyone working in a narrative form.



Register HERE!





Campus Info

We cannot wait to see you at the Fall Conference!  This year's conference will be held in the Student Union Ballroom. You may find directions to MTSU and a campus map helpful. Parking on Saturdays is open at MTSU, so you may park anywhere you like. 

General registration for the Fall Conference is $60 per person, which includes continental breakfast, lunch, breakout sessions, and keynote.

Discounted registration for MTSU Write alums and past mentors, MTSU students and faculty is $40 per person. Current MTSU Write students and mentors (2019) may attend at no charge (email mtsuwrite@mtsu.edu to reserve your spot).


Program enquiries to mtsuwrite@mtsu.edu

Questions or Comments

Please send an email to mtsuwrite@mtsu.edu.