Structure Your Vision

I recently finished a short course taught online through the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. It was a fiction workshop with an eyecatching title (“Structure Your Vision,”) which I found on the MWPA site (

 So I signed up, and for five weeks ten of us met under the incisive and graceful leadership of Judson Merrill, experienced fiction writer and teacher ( Each week two of us presented some current work and in the course of discussing our pages we explored the tools we writers have when we build the scenes out of which a narrative is constructed: description, action, dialogue, reflection and exposition.

The phrase “Structure your Vision” caught my eye because for a while now I have been producing many pages of a novel, a literary mystery. Just recently however, I came to the conclusion that my vision for the work is great, but my structure– well, that’s what it most needs. So this was the right workshop at the right time for me.

Here at Oranbega, our mission is to provide working space for writers and other creative types. Workshops are a big feature of many writers’ retreats, but in our case we want to keep the focus on providing a nurturing and uncluttered space in which to produce great work in a concentrated way. We will not be workshop-heavy. Yet my experience with “Structure Your Vision” has reminded me that workshops where writers read each other’s work and converse about the nuts and bolts of craft can be truly inspirational.

A writer’s life can be lonely.  I think I can safely promise that writers who come to Oranbega to spent a week or so in discovering for themselves how to “structure their vision” will find a good balance between individual work and group support.

 We invite writers to come and experience connection (“Only Connect!” as E.M. Forster famously said) at Oranabega. Connect with yourself, your peers, and whatever is beyond us all. For any artist, there is nothing like having your work shared by someone who is knowledgable, talented, experienced, and compassionate. For writers, there is nothing like a good reader.

Who knows, perhaps we can persuade Judson Merrill — a very good reader– to come and lead a version of his workshop here in Orland. Keep tuned!