Mors Tua Vita Mea Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2018 Workshop
(Sezze Romano, Lazio, Italy) BREAKING NEWS — Mors Tua Vita Mea is now accepting applications for its spring workshop, to be held at Villa DiTrapano from April 17 to 24, 2018!
I attended the workshop in October and had a phenomenal time. I received incisive feedback, connected with emerging artists and established professionals, and ate my weight in gelato and pasta. (You can read a more polished testimonial from me and my fellow attendees, Paul Dalla Rosa and Alex Gaertner, at www.morstuavitamea.com.)
What to Expect from the Mors Tua Vita Mea Workshop.
Each morning, after fresh caffè and cornetti from a bakery down the hill, we’d launch into the day’s workshop. Each day was reserved for one piece, which means every writer got a full hour of feedback.
If you’re used to programs that split an hour among two or three pieces, this extended riff session is just what the doctor ordered. When a workshop is allowed to sit with a piece for more than thirty minutes, its feedback burrows deeper, getting to the true root of editorial concerns.
Another brilliant logistical decision: each participant was required to read and comment on workshop pieces before they headed to Italy, so no one was “catching up” — i.e., reading your work for the first time in that setting.
Our group workshopped a fair amount of fiction and autofiction. Most pieces were set in a version of the “real world," while mine was an excerpt from a speculative novel. To all you speculative writers out there, I was treated with respect during my workshop. No one wasted time asking extraneous technical questions or telling me how much they detested workshopping novel excerpts.
After workshop, we would take a fifteen-minute break, usually to down a second espresso, and then shift into a craft class led by our faculty advisors, Giancarlo DiTrapano (award-winning publisher of Tyrant Books) and Chelsea Hodson (author of the chapbook, Pity the Animal, and the forthcoming essay collection, Tonight I’m Someone Else). These classes were optional, but because they were on such subjects as constructing an opening sentence, imbuing language with physicality, and how best to present one’s self at a reading, none of us sat them out.
We spent warm afternoons and cool evenings exploring Sezze and its surroundings, including the Mediterranean seaside, a walled medieval town, and a multi-course lunch in a secluded hermitage.
Professional Connections: Your Faculty, Cohort, and Special Guests.
Beyond the day-to-day of the workshop, we benefited from access to our faculty and their professional network. In the middle of the week, New York-based publicist/dynamo Lauren Cerand visited the villa and taught us how to build an effective author platform online.
We also had one-on-one sessions with Chelsea and Giancarlo. This was an open-ended time to ask about anything that interested you, whether a discussion of workshop comments, your larger goals for the piece, your writing practice, etc. I’d like to keep the contents of my sessions private, suffice to say I was encouraged with them.
This faculty isn’t just good for advice. I felt they’d selected our cohort based on both the strength of our writing and on whose styles and areas of interest gelled. As we began to read each other’s workshop pieces, shared details kept popping up in our work (e.g., men named David, tarot readings, the drinking game “Never Have I Ever”).
The synchronicity was real, and became more so as we got to know each other. I am now connected with four fantastic writers based in New York, Chicago, and Melbourne, Australia, and I can’t wait for the next time I have an excuse to be in New York or Chicago to catch up with them. (Paul D., Melbourne may be more of a stretch. I’ll let you know.)
It’s currently free to apply to MTVM, but if finances are an issue for you, then the $2,900 tuition plus airfare may seem intense. That said, I feel strongly that if you can dine out several times each month (i.e., you're not spending every cent on survival), then you can afford something like this.
Think about it: that gourmet burger and fries coated in truffle oil will be out of your system in about a day, but edifying experiences like this will have a lasting impact on your personal and professional writing career.
Besides, when are you going to get to stay in a private Italian villa, with home-cooked breakfasts and lunches covered, for $400 a day? (That’s if you pretend the workshop costs nothing. If we assume that this level of instruction costs, say, $1,500, then you’re living a five-star life on a $200/day DoubleTree Inn budget.)
Some suggestions for mitigating this financial risk:
- Look into airfare deals on websites and apps like Airfare Watchdog, Secret Flying, Hopper, etc. For my trip, I drove four hours south to fly out of Ft. Lauderdale, later connecting in Philadelphia and London, so that I could get a roundtrip flight for under $700.
- Learn how to save towards a goal. If you get into the workshop, you'll need to pay a $500 deposit to confirm your spot, but then you'll have time to get the other $2,400. I’ll write a blog soon on how to cut expenses and save more.
- Think less about what you're losing and more about what you're gaining. Depending on if you make money off of your writing, you could possibly deduct this as a business expense on your 2018 tax return in 2019. (This is now dependent on which itemized deductions stay and go the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act #TaxScam. Another blog to look forward to.)
- Ask for money as birthday and holiday gifts from family and friends. Even $50 here and there may help. If newlyweds can ask for people to fund their freaking honeymoon, then you can ask for people to fund a life-changing writing workshop.
Again, the connections you’ll make, the growth you’ll experience, the ITALY you’ll ingest through all five senses, if you can afford it, is worth every penny.
Okay, you've convinced me. How do I apply to Mors Tua Vita Mea?
Look, amazing things will happen to you as a writer only if you try. I saw a tweet about the workshop over the summer and, on a whim, I went for it.
“It’s free to apply,” I thought. “There’s no risk, and no way I’m getting in. What’s there to lose?” But then I got in and thus began my greatest adventure of 2017. (Aside from working with you lovelies, of course.)
So, take a chance. What’s there to lose? To apply, send a cover letter and up to twenty pages of fiction or nonfiction to morstuavitameaworkshop [at] gmail [dot] com.