Gamut Magazine is a newer periodical that launched January 1, 2017, spearheaded through a successful Kickstarter campaign by Richard Thomas. Although more recent, the online publication has garnered much attention for its diversity of well-written works and authors that include poetry as well as short fiction with author pay rates at 10 cents a word for original fiction and three cents a word for reprints (unavailable elsewhere online).
I’d first seen Richard Thomas discuss an inaugural Gamut Writer’s Retreat and Workshop on social media and was immediately interested because of Richard’s vast teaching background, which includes but isn’t limited to, online LitReactor courses, as well as his numerous guest instructor appearances at writers workshops/residencies both collegiate and non-collegiate.
Many of us have traveled through Chicago, via O’Hare International Airport, a major hub stop before traveling to a final destination. I’d only been to Chicago once before for a weekend trip to visit the Field Museum for a traveling exhibit. As a fan of the film WICKER PARK (2004), I thought it would be cool to visit the actual place, and during a writer’s retreat—Bonus! I was not disappointed.
Founded in the 1800s, the Wicker Park District has been a part of Chicago since the city was incorporated in 1837. Historically, the area was settled by immigrants from Germany, Norway, and Poland. The district saw a major growth period of commerce up until 1929 and then began a steady decline until about the early ‘70s when the area saw a rebirth.
Interspersed between busy city streets of trendy and historic shops and eateries are streets lined with beautiful brownstones, greystones, townhouses, and row houses. It’s glorious to see the blending of the old with the new, and the Wicker Park District does it well. An electric atmosphere and artistic vibe permeates the area, awakening all the senses of visitors and residents alike.
The writer’s workshop and retreat was a five-day event full of fun, education, making new friends, and lots of great food, as well as walking tours of the Wicker Park District.
Having guest speakers primarily from the literary genre was another reason I wanted to attend the workshop. It’s always good to read outside the genre you write in, but not many of us attend conventions or workshops where the panelists and presenters aren’t mainly horror authors, so I thought it would be a good experience, and it was fantastic. Each presenter was asked questions about writing and their process, and then were included in a panel alongside Richard Thomas, Mercedes M. Yardley, and Casey Frechette, where the attendees could ask their own questions. Much was learned, and with guests like Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Jan Bottiglieri, and Joe Meno, there was no way their discussions weren’t going to be interesting and informative.
After a lunch break, the attendees would come together and discuss works that we each had to critique, with the works also being critiqued by the Gamut staff (Richard, Mercedes, and Casey). The critiques focused on the positive, and everyone joined in and gave their opinions and offered suggestions and ideas to improve the stories. This was also when we’d discuss any personal feelings about the works we shared, which was touching for a few of us and struck personal chords. From someone who keeps things inside, I felt the retreat a safe enough place to share some of my own feelings among new friends, and it was very purging.
Overall, the retreat went above and beyond my expectations, and I learned new things to consider/factor in when it comes to my own writing. Touring the fabulous Wicker Park District and making new writer friends simply made the whole experience all the better. I highly recommend attending this event if you’re able.
For more information on Gamut Magazine and the staff bios, visit: http://www.gamut.online/.
For more information on the Gamut Writer’s Retreat and Workshop and guest speaker bios, visit http://gamut.online/node/245.