Caitlin McGill Earns Writing Accolades
Many of our high school senior clients know Caitlin McGill, who joined Educational Advocates as a part-time writing specialist in 2013, because she has reviewed and commented on their near-final Common Application essays. What students may not know is that, beyond editing, Caitlin is an accomplished writer. She recently returned from Bread Loaf at Middlebury College, the oldest and one of the most prestigious writers’ conferences in America. We caught up with Caitlin recently to learn more about the experience:
Tell us about the writers who have attended Bread Loaf in the past?
Robert Frost hiked on the conference grounds and read poetry there, Richard Wright captivated the audience when he read from his new work, Native Son, and Sinclair Lewis read one of his latest works. Toni Morrison is a Bread Loafer among many other writers familiar to high school students.
The competition for Bread Loaf is fierce. Tell us about the process?
Every participant applied, sending a letter of intent and a writing sample. More than 150 writers, fellows, faculty and work-study scholarship recipients attend the conference. Caitlin was one of twenty-six scholarship recipients accepted among hundreds of applicants, a three percent acceptance rate. Most new writers attend as work- study scholarship recipients so in addition to writing and attending workshops, we were waiting tables or working in the office.
What do you do at the conference?
Everyday, fellows and faculty, who are well-known writers, run workshops. There are readings of writers’ works-in-progress as well as craft lessons on special topics such as long-form nonfiction and setting a scene in a novel. Every writer who attends is set up in one-on-one meetings with two literary agents, editors or publishers to pitch a project or get advice.
What was the most significant benefit of attending Bread Loaf?
Connections with the other writers and the community in general! Also, having to explain my work forced me to successfully discuss my book in a concise way and to really think about it in a practical manner, which is not something writers like to do, preferring the artistic side of the work.
Caitlin is also a 2016 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award winner. She was the 2014 winner of the Rafael Torch Nonfiction Literary Award. Her essays and flash fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Short, Fast, & Deadly, The Southeast Review and several other magazines. Currently, she is working on a memoir-in-essays in which she journeys to uncover her family’s hidden past. Throughout this pilgrimage to exhume her identity, she grapples with the cost of ignoring our pasts–of ignoring history itself. Caitlin learned, as we conducted this interview, that an essay from her book was named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016. Congratulations Caitlin!