Last week I had the good fortune to teach a writing workshop at The Writers’ Barn, in Shelburne, Vermont.
The barn is just that – a barn, but it’s been renovated into a light, airy space with all the modern amenities for that particular breed: writers. There are tables, chairs of several varieties, light, heat, wi-fi and coffee and tea on demand. The mission of The Writers’ Barn is to build a supportive space for writers of all ages to develop writing skills, whether for pleasure or profession, and to build communities that share and celebrate the written or spoken word. They pursue this mission two ways: through workshops and through space.
The Writers’ Barn has offered workshops in writing memoir, children’s picture books, manuscript revision, sports writing, poetry, and craft. I taught a workshop on craft, detailing techniques for writing short. Eight people attended, including the editorial staff from a national magazine, a memoirist, a free-lance magazine writer, and an eighth-grader who wants to be a professional writer. We had a lot of fun – and enjoyed the cider donuts provided to fuel us through the afternoon.
I was particularly pleased to be able to hook my laptop up to a huge, flat-screen TV, so that I could project my materials for all to see without having to inhale marker fumes on a white board or kill a lot of trees. It’s times like this that I love technology. And I’m looking forward to a return visit later this month to lead a Holiday Writing Retreat.
The Writers’ Barn is also a space available for use as a meeting venue and as a workspace. The Writers’ Barn has hosted special events, including poetry readings and literary salons. The Writers’ Barn is also available as shared workspace for writers who don’t have a room of their own. For a monthly fee, writers can use the barn to write. They are free to come and go at all hours except those blacked out for workshops or events, and they are provided with cubby space in which to store any materials they don’t want to schlepp.
I’ve heard about shared office space before, and know of several published authors who rent offices where they can treat their writing with the seriousness of a job – and have access to a water-cooler, where they can hydrate and sip office gossip. There’s one such space in Northampton Massachusetts called Click, where writers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and frazzled parents can go to get work done. Click offers professional office space, complete with comfortable work stations, wireless internet, power, conference rooms, printers, kitchenette, and the requisite free tea & coffee.
I work alone, in a studio in the woods, which is absolutely great – most of the time. When it’s not, I wish I could walk down a hall and find a colleague to help me out of a slump, or tell me a joke, read me a poem, or remind me that having a bad day is no reason to quit.
Does anybody use or know of other shared office spaces? Has anybody attended a great workshop on craft lately? Does anyone know of another place like The Writers’ Barn?
I’m looking forward to your comments.
Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, essayist and educator who lives in southern Vermont.