Photo by Jack Waguespack.
On Wednesday, March 20, UNO Press kicked off their first Write-a-Thon — a full 24 hours of workshops and writing-related events. Professors, alumni and organizations came together to host panels with various concentrations on different fields of writing.
These events were held throughout campus, including the Cove, library, UC and lakefront area. Campus clubs and organizations made fundraising teams, which competed to raise money for student scholarships and their own departments. While being a fundraiser event, it also brought writers from all backgrounds and departments together to encourage each other to work on their craft.
The 24 hours started at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning in the quad, with a toast of coffee to celebrate writers coming together. Participants took turns explaining what they were going to write, which included homework, essays, novels and paper grading.
Writers sat in the morning sun and wrote until it was time for the first workshop with Bryan Camp, the author of “The City of Lost Fortunes” and a graduate of the UNO MFA program.
“Where do we get our ideas?” is the “dreaded question” for writers, according to Camp. He led a workshop based off “what ifs,” where participants created stories with ideas they gave each other.
“Reimagining Classic Poems” with Dr. Pat Austin followed Camp’s workshop. Austin brought multiple kinds of storybooks and poetry for workshoppers to deconstruct and make their own. She walked everyone through how to construct their own versions of classic poetry, prose, and even children’s books. She took “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens and “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and turned them into her own by adding personal touches.
The crew then moved to the UC, where a poetry slam workshop took place along with a poetry reading and a pizza happy hour sponsored by Homegrown Pizza. Poets were able to put their skills to the test by workshopping their pieces together and learning how make a slam poem easily flow.
At the Cove, the late-night writers wrote to the sound of jazz music and enjoyed Write-a-Thon specials from the Sandbar. For the really dedicated ones, camping took place in the courtyard.
Write-a-Thon leaders provided s’mores and hammocks while UNO playwrights hosted a playwriting workshop.
Finally, a Viking funeral took place on the lake early Thursday morning. Writers strapped their least favorite pieces of writing to a Viking boat and watched them sail off while the sun rose.
Closing ceremonies took place at the amphitheatre while writers enjoyed breakfast tacos from Pagoda Cafe. As the 24 hours came to a close, writers celebrated their fundraising efforts and the fact that UNO makes it possible for them to continue their writing goals.
Raffle winners were announced and participants won prizes from local businesses.
UNO Press ended the fundraiser with over $8,000 raised. Other leading teams included the UNO Press Office with $3,727, UNO Creative Writing Workshop with $1,365, and the department of management and marketing with $560.
Full disclosure: Jack Waguespack participated and fundraised for Driftwood.