I'm running a retreat for writers of EA fiction.
Why? Because fiction can communicate ideas and inspire action, and yet EA fiction is surprisingly scarce. So I want to give aspiring writers of EA fiction an opportunity to do two things. First, to hone their craft. Second, to reflect on the role that writing plays in their lives and in their attempts to make the world better. I hope that some people will emerge from this retreat with a desire to write more and the skills to do so.
Participants will spend six days in a beautiful old building near Oxford (UK) writing, engaging in peer feedback, and receiving mentorship from a professional (though this final element of things is yet to be arranged). The retreat will take place from September 15th to September 20th. The event will be free for participants, and travel, food and accommodation will be paid for.
If you might be interested in coming along then read on. If you're interested but feel like an imposter in some way then please read on anyway; I would love to receive your application.
What (Is EA Fiction)?
I don't like the phrase "EA fiction", even if I find myself using it as a shorthand. I think this phrase lends itself to three misreadings.
Misreading 1 (Identity). I don't care whether a piece of fiction is written by someone who identifies as an effective altruist. What I want to see more of is not fiction written by members of a particular social movement but rather fiction that explores certain ideas.
Misreading 2 (Endorsement). Nor is my interest restricted to writing that endorses "standard" EA views. Indeed, I myself reject some views that are popular in EA, and I feel uncertain about others. What I care about is sincere and thoughtful engagement with EA themes, which can involve criticism as much as endorsement.
Misreading 3 (Subject Matter). Finally, I'm not interested only in fiction that explicitly explores EA themes. I think that fiction is often at its most honest and engaging when plot or character comes first and theme emerges organically from these and from the writer's viewpoint on the world.
So what do I mean by EA fiction? I mean fiction that is influenced, perhaps explicitly or perhaps subtly, by a sincere and thoughtful engagement with at least one of:
- The notions of altruism and compassion;
- The idea that reason and evidence can play a role in altruistic action; or
- Any of the more specific views that are oft discussed in EA circles.
That might seem irritatingly vague, but I prefer to be vague rather than discourage people from thinking outside whatever box I draw. Basically, if you feel uncertain about whether I'd consider something to be EA fiction then err on the side of assuming I would.
Who (Should Apply)?
Well, maybe not, I guess, if you've only read this far out of curiosity and actually have no interest in writing.
But if you write, or think you'd like to start writing, then why not apply? You don't have to be a professional, or have publications, or have been writing for years, or consider yourself an EA, or have an extensive portfolio, or…
As long as you can pull together a 3000 word writing sample by the deadline, then we'd love to have you apply (you'll also need to be over 18 for the entirety of the retreat, I'm afraid, and your writing will need to be in English).
(The 3000 words assumes you're writing prose. If you're writing poetry, or comics, or plays, or whatever else then there's no strict guidelines; just feel free to make your best guess about what would be a reasonable equivalent, or drop me a message if you want to clarify a specific case.)
As above, people who would like to apply but feel like an imposter are especially encouraged to apply!
What (Will The Retreat Involve)?
There will be three formal components of the retreat:
- Peer Critique. Each day will start with a peer critique session in small groups. This will be a chance to get feedback on your work and also a chance to learn by providing feedback on other people's work.
- Mentorship. A writing mentor will also attend, leading some of the critique groups and also providing one on one feedback.
- Creative Time. Afternoons will be creative time, to be spent however you wish (but with suggested activities including making edits in response to the morning's feedback and writing).
Outside of the formal events, the retreat will involve spending six days in a beautiful old building with a bunch of other writers.
Note that participants will be encouraged to come to the retreat with 5000-8000 words writte
How (Can I Apply to Attend)?
To apply, fill in this form by June 26th.
The form is mostly simple (as long as you know your name and email address), but the one thing you will need is roughly 3000 words of fiction written in English. This doesn't need to be EA fiction, even in the generous sense above: the retreat aims at promoting EA fiction but that doesn't mean the writing sample itself needs to be fiction of this sort. Nor does this sample need to be self contained; it's fine if it's the start of something longer.
If you have any trouble with the form, or any questions, then feel free to send me a message on the forum (or ask in the comments, if you think others might have the same question).
Otherwise, I look forward to reading your applications.