Southampton Arts Summer Workshops Begin

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From July 10 through July 28, Stony Brook Southampton will host Southampton Arts Summer, a series of workshops and lectures taught by the best minds in fiction, playwriting, memoir writing, acting, directing, poetry and filmmaking.Meg Wolitzer has authored nine novels in her career, the most recent being “The Interestings,” published this year. She will be teaching a workshop on novel writing at the annual summer series, hosted by the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.

“The class is a very intensive, personalized experience where we really look at one another’s work and figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s a supportive class that cares about language and identifies what the writer wants to do, it answers the question what do you want to be as a writer,” Ms. Wolitzer said of her workshop during a phone interview from her Upper East Side apartment.

The method the author uses to teach writing a novel is to look at a 15-page section a student is working on and use it as a microcosm to critique the big picture. By looking at a compressed version of the book, she’ll be able to see what a writer has a tendency to do well, and what they need to work on.

“The amazing thing is in a short period of time students develop a voice and a style,” Ms. Wolitzer said.

She learned how to write from her mother, Hilma Wolitzer, who is also a novelist. Growing up in the Wolitzer house in Syosset, meant reading a lot and talking about what kind of a writer you wanted to be, she said.

“My mother always said being a writer is a reasonable way to live your life, I was always made to feel it,” the author said.

This same sentiment is what she instills in students in her workshop.

“There’s always such a debate whether you can teach writing,” she added. “You can immerse them in writing life, and what writers go through.”

Melissa Bank returns this year to lead a fiction workshop. The Stony Brook Southampton MFA program teacher is the writer of “The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” “The Wonder Spot” and many short stories.

“It’s hard to say exactly what’s going to happen, every workshop is different, but what I try to do each time is create an atmosphere that’s inspiring and supportive and really fun,” Ms. Bank said during an email interview from the South of France.

Writing is what she says makes writers better writers. In other words, just keep writing in order to improve, she said.

“My tip for aspiring writers is just to keep on going. It’s so much less about talent or brilliance than it is about endurance,” Ms. Bank said. “I want everybody to write their heads off and for us to talk about it in a way that actually makes everybody want to write more. Meanwhile, I’m trying to help each writer find and develop what’s powerful and unique in his or her work.”

During this year’s Southampton Summer Arts, there will be two sessions of classes. The first session will be held from Wednesday, July 10, through Sunday, July 14. Workshops and classes will be held on fiction, poetry, graphic novel, playwriting, picture books and directing. The second session will be held from Wednesday, July 17, through Sunday, July 28. Workshops and classes will be held on memoir writing, creative nonfiction, fiction, novel, poetry, playwriting and acting.

Additionally, there will be a few free events open to all, including a reading of Frederic Tuten’s one-act satire “At Stanley’s Place” on Saturday, July 13, at 3:45 p.m. during a dedication of the campus windmill as a literary landmark; a conversation between Mr. Tuten and Laurie Anderson on Saturday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m.; and readings by Billy Collins and Roger Rosenblatt, in support of the launch of the summer issue of The Southampton Review, on Friday, July 26, at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit southamptonarts.org or call 632-5030.

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