Our mission at Writers in Paradise is to provide talented and hardworking writers of all levels and genres the opportunity to learn from and work with other writers under the guidance of masterful and successful authors. For an entire week, we strive to provide an open, inclusive, and nurturing environment where creativity, critical awareness and writing techniques can be exercised, fostered and encouraged. Every year we try to grow our conference to include new voices and ways of looking at writing and what it means to write in today’s market while maintaining a core faculty of proven authors who are both successful in their genres as well as gifted in the classroom. Our central premise has always been to help talented writers reach their intended audiences. We understand the complexities of putting together effective stories, and this understanding and sensitivity makes our workshops popular and coveted. One of our goals is to create community among our participants which is why our workshops are closed to all but those participants who submit manuscripts and are accepted into workshop—one long time faculty member calls it “having skin in the game.”
We believe that keeping workshops small allows for focus, productive criticism and honesty.
Our commitment to providing a week filled with writing education and sanctuary includes poetry. Nearly every year we rotate a nationally-acclaimed, award-winning poet who teaches as part of our core faculty. In addition to the poetry workshop and craft talk(s), we are honored to have as part of our lineup the poet laureates of St. Petersburg and of Florida, Helen Pruitt Wallace and Peter Meinke.
With the help of our St. Petersburg community and Eckerd alumni, we work with an endowment that affords us the opportunity to help many participants financially. We never want money to be the reason that you can’t come be with us for a week. If you’ve got a story that’s burning to be told, we want to help you add to your set of craft-box tools, so you can effectively tell it. While we are competitive and accept writers based on the strength and potential of their writing, we abide by the notion that good writing is good writing and we all stand to learn from one another no matter where we come from, how old we are, or what we may or may not have studied formally. After a week at WIP, we hope you leave with a new and inspired sense of direction, some good friends who you can share writing with throughout the year, and with confidence you can navigate new writing challenges on your own.
Les Standiford, Conference Director
Marina Pruna, Conference Coordinator
When I attended Writers in Paradise seven years ago, I was ready to give up on publishing my novel. I’d already published quite a few nonfiction books, but my heart belonged to fiction. Laura Lippman told me not to give up, and why. Her support lifted my spirits, enabling me to continue to work on my novel. Eventually it found a home with a literary press in the UK. In the WIP workshops, I learned what I was doing wrong. This helped me with subsequent novellas and novels, many of which were published by small presses. Writers in Paradise is a great investment in your future as a writer.
Virginia Aronson, aka Mickey J. Corrigan author of Project XX (SaltPublishing, 2017)
I’ve been to two consecutive Writers in Paradise and plan to return for a third next year! I’ve studied with Denise Duhamel and Major Jackson, who are both phenomenal teachers and lead interactive, quick-paced workshops. I learned more than I expected both times and made friends I’m in touch with often. I’m a much better poet for having attended these.
– David Colodney, alum 2016 & 2017
The conference offered a great roster of authors, events, and panels–from the daily short story workshop with Andre Dubus III, to the nightly craft talks with Ana Menendez, Major Jackson, Les Standiford, and Russell Banks. The approach to the work was rigorous, and the tenor was friendly and fun. I left feeling reinspired about fiction, and eager to get back to writing.“but the tenor” and“and the tenor”–I’m still torn 🙂 AND I SAY THIS because I’ve been to other writing workshops where the approach was rigorous, BUT the tenor was neither friendly nor fun, and this is a big reason I liked WIP so much…that combination of rigor and fun…PS: I was torn between
– Leah Griesmann, Carlson Fellow 2017–
I’m a retired attorney and an Eckerd College graduate. Fifty years ago I learned English literature from an extraordinary faculty that included luminaries like Robert Detweiler, Peter Meinke, and Jim Carlson. Recently, when I started writing fiction, I returned to Eckerd for the 2017 and 2018 conferences. I was challenged an equally extraordinary faculty that included Laura Lippman, Les Standiford and Andre Dubus. But I also got the chance to wear my collection of Hawaiian shirts. So, as the former Governor of California once said,“I’ll be back.”
— John Francis Callahan, Big Sur Nation, alum 2016 & 2017
Attending Writer’s in Paradise has been an essential ingredient to my development as a writer. I’ve attended several years and have always come away with new tools and skills. The readings, faculty, panels, lectures and fellow students make it a great week and a conference not to be missed.
– Gale Massey, Alum 2016 & 2017-
The Girl From Blind River – July 10,2018
Les Standiford fosters a friendly and respectful environment and is especially masterful in teaching the art of creating story blueprints. I left the conference with a filled notebook, several new friends and ideas on how to structure my next project. No doubt I hope to return.
– Sara Goudarzi, Standiford Fellow 2017–