On Tuesday, Feb. 24, Writing at Wesleyan held an informative event describing the long-running Wesleyan Writers Conference and the Columbia Publishing Course, opportunities the University hopes its undergraduate students will participate in over the summer.
The first part of the information session was led by Adjunct Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs Anne Greene, who invited students to attend the 59th annual Wesleyan Writers Conference.
“The program is the oldest of its kind in the nation,” Greene said. “It is a rich program including fiction, including novel and short story, poetry, and nonfiction, including memoir and journalism.”
The program will also bring in esteemed faculty from around the world, including novelist Roxana Robinson and poet Honor Moore.
Greene held the event in order to remind students that these conference opportunities, as well as scholarships, are available for all University students.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity, and we have scholarships to give,” Greene said. “We have scholarships for six students.”
The event in the past has connected University students to publishing opportunities; Greene mentioned that one student in particular was published by NBC. Other students were also able to build relationships with the faculty, leading to recommendation letters for future post-graduation programs.
The conference is able to bring together writers of all kinds, as most of the participants are not University students but rather professionals in other fields who are interested in improving their writing or sharing their writing.
“[The point is to] make friends, who can read your work in the long-term,” Greene said.
The Columbia Publishing Course (CPC) is a six-week intensive course on the publishing industry held at Columbia University in New York City. Greene referred to it as the best publishing program that she knows.
Shaye Areheart, the director of the CPC, has over 30 years of experience in the publishing industry. She visited the University and spoke about the course and how beneficial it could be to students who have graduated from college. Publishing is a promising career for liberal arts students, Areheart said.
“You never know what [liberal arts students are] going to be like,” Areheart said.
Areheart believes that the course can create future leaders in the publishing industry. Due to the arduous nature of the program, those who come out of it are extremely prepared for the publishing industry and jobs tend to come in very quickly. One of her main focuses is to ensure jobs for all those who go through the program.
“Publishing is an entrepreneurial business,” Areheart said. “Expect [the job] to be training, and teaching people, and [eventually] having you become us.”
The program includes learning what makes a book work, and what does not. It also includes creating an entire publishing company in a week’s time, with 15 different book proposals depending on the aim of the publishing company. There is also a week where students focus on creating an entire magazine and an entire website based off an original idea. A special aspect of this program is that after these respective weeks, editors and publishers in the industry come and critique each group’s work.
The program is also a selective one, with over 450 people applying in 2014, and only 110 selected. The admissions committee consists of 40 people who are in the publishing industry.
“There are editors, literary agents, people who work in editorials, magazine editors, and also students from previous classes [in the committee],” Areheart said.
Roxie Pell ’15 came to the information session because she had not been doing much in terms of job searching but wanted to make some progress.
“I’ve always been interested in jobs in the literary and journalism worlds,” Pell said. “Coming to this information session makes me feel like I’m being productive.”
One student during the session asked whether or not it was true that it would be hard to get a publishing job without having connections in the publishing world. Areheart agreed wholeheartedly, and reiterated that finding a job would be easier with the help of the CCP.
“When people make [things] happen, it’s very inspiring,” Areheart said.