Taylor-Brown launches Village Writing School for area authors

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Alison Taylor-Brown

EUREKA SPRINGS -- For those who are impassioned by creative writing but don't really know where to begin, the key to their success may be just around the corner.

Alison Taylor-Brown, who has run writing workshops from the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow the past year, has started her own writing program that will be available to anyone interested and will hold classes in both Eureka Springs and Holiday Island.

"The Village Writing School is a program of workshops, small writers circles and some one-on-one coaching. My mission is to help local writers develop and to help them succeed. I had a one-year contract with the Writers' Colony to develop their community writing program, which I did. Now they have that program and they have some exciting plans for it.

"What I want is to teach the curriculum my instructors have developed. They aren't standalone workshops. Our program is a series of one-day workshops. We teach writing craft, so we teach narrative prose and creative nonfiction. I also plan to offer some poetry workshops."

The workshops will be offered on the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Island Clubhouse and again the following Tuesday, same hours, at the Garden Bistro at 119 North Main St. in Eureka Springs.

"I like to bring in different teachers so students get a variety of perspectives, but I also like to co-teach for continuity to make sure nothing gets overlooked," Taylor-Brown said.

Taylor-Brown has an MFA degree in fiction from Southern New Hampshire University and a lifetime of teaching experience at all levels up through university.

"This is the third independent English writing program I've done," she said. "I have some students who hadn't written before but have made extraordinary progress, so I'm excited about watching them develop further. I am excited about seeing more student work published. I'm hoping at some point to put together an anthology of student work."

Taylor-Brown writes literary novels herself but says entertainment writing, or genre writing, is a lot more lucrative.

"I love a good escapist novel," she said. "I challenge my students not to settle for anything less than the best they can do, whatever type of story they are writing. If they want to write a zombie story, it it should be the best zombie story they can do. Which means learning what constitutes good writing, and how to achieve it. And I think that's the really important thing we do teach. A lot of creative writing is learnable. What makes fiction marketable is definitely learnable. What was marketable 50 years ago probably isn't now, but you can learn what is."

Taylor-Brown says she wants to be responsive to what she feels are the interests of her students.

"If there's an interest in horror, let's say, then I have a lot of contacts around the country who would be up for teaching on the subject. I can also match students with writing coaches one-on-one, who are writing the same type material the students wants to learn to write."

The first Village Writing School workshop will take place April 20 in Holiday Island, which will be repeated on the 23rd.

"I hope in the future to teach in surrounding communities -- Berryville, Green Forest, Huntsville," she said. "So far I haven't had any problem finding teachers. People come for a weekend and stay to teach."

Taylor-Brown says she believes if Eureka Springs wants to make itself a literary destination of the caliber it is as a visual arts destination, there need to be many different writing programs and events. "That way, when people come here for any of those activities, we all benefit," she said. "So I'm looking forward to collaborating with not only the Writers Colony but also the local library system -- I'm on the Library Foundation Board -- also local writers groups, our small publishers and anybody else who is involved in any way in the literary arts."

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