Writers in 2022 workshop feel AC “magic”
It’s hard to believe the writers’ tribute to Larry McMurtry was more than a year ago. Hard to believe we had not had a workshop since 2019. We fixed that this summer and as it has done in the past, Archer City cast its spell over the group who came to the town June 9-12 to soak in the atmosphere and learn from other writers during the Archer City Writers Workshop 2022 session.
“It was a life-changing experience that’s already helped me become a stronger writer,” said Simone Carter, culture reporter at Newsweek and graduate of the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.
Writers of all levels gathered in the Spur Hotel for a mix of workshop sessions and sharing lessons they had learned in their experience and careers. Stories workshopped were a mix of recently published works, drafts of stories, and possible book projects.
Barbara and Jerry Phillips hosted the group at their home Thursday night. Jerry Phillips gave writers a special tour of the Archer County Museum and Arts Center.
The workshop concluded with a community event Saturday, June 11, at the Royal Theater. Writer Tony Rehagen sang and played guitar, performing a mix of original songs and covers. Rehagen has written for many national magazines and is a five-time finalist for the City and Regional Magazine Association Writer of the Year Award, and is featured in the book Next Wave, America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.
Writers read short selections of their own works at the Royal.
Attending the workshop were director Ben Montgomery, former director George Getschow, Carter, Jim Dolan, Selene San Felice, Kathy Floyd, Justin Garcia, LaJuana Hale, Harry Hall, Michael Kruse, Asher Montgomery, Kate Pezzulli, Ashley Porter, Rehagen, Samantha Thornfelt, Rachel Williams, and Candace Taggart and Rebecca Taggart of Archer City.
In other news, the manuscript of essays by those who read at the October 2021 McMurtry tribute and by many others commissioned for the occasion has been submitted to The University of Texas Press. Writers contributing to the essay collection include Sarah Bird, Bill Broyles, Erik Calonius, Oscar Cesáres, Alfredo Corchado, Greg Curtis, Geoff Dyer, Stephen Harrigan, Skip Hollandsworth, Paulette Jiles, Stephen Graham Jones, Beverly Lowry, Bill Marvel, Charlie McMurtry, Dianne Solis, Doug J. Swanson, Dave Tarrant, Cathy Booth Thomas, Katy Vine, McMurtry’s writing partner Diana Ossana, and others.
Getschow said the essay collection will become among the first evaluations of McMurtry’s work and his influence on generations of writers. “When an important literary figure like Larry McMurtry dies, it’s important for the literary community to do a serious and thorough assessment of his life and his work. His stature will become evident through the pieces in this collection. That’s the intent and purpose of the book.” Getschow said.
Geoff Dyer, author, critic, and writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California, wrote “Ranging Around Texas” after reading Lonesome Dove for the first time. “I was not reading a book. There was no book and no reader. There was just this world, this huge landscape and its magnificently peopled emptiness,” he states in the essay.
On McMurtry’s famous work ethic of writing five pages a day, award-winning Texas author and screenwriter Stephen Harrigan writes, “Few novelists have ever been able to match Larry McMurtry’s work ethic, let alone his towering popularity and influence. For many Texas writers, particularly those of my generation working from the first in the shadow of his achievements, his career was both intimidating and inspiring. We could never hope to measure up, but we could dare to press on, because he showed us how.”
Expected publication date is fall 2023.
“Everyone knows that Larry McMurtry and Texas literature are indivisible,” said Getschow. “What isn’t so well known is the enormous impact Larry has had on prominent writers in Texas and across the country.” Getschow is co-founder and former writer-in-residence for the University of North Texas’ Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference and taught at UNT’s Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism.
Photo by Adam Muhlig — Used with permission from James McMurtry & the estate of Larry McMurtry
About Larry McMurtry
McMurtry was the author of 29 novels, including the Pulitzer-Prize winning Lonesome Dove. He also wrote three memoirs, two collections of essays, and many screenplays. He grew up in Archer City and in addition to keeping his home there, he opened the Booked Up bookstores.
The 1963 film Hud starring Paul Newman was based on McMurtry’s first book, Horseman, Pass By. Other films based on his books are Lovin’ Molly (1974, based on 1963’s Leaving Cheyenne), Terms of Endearment (1983), and Texasville (1990).
The Tribute to Larry McMurtry and the ACWW 2022 were made possible by a grant from the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation – Royal C. “Bingo” Kinder Advised Fund and sponsored by the Archer City Writers Workshop and the Royal Theater.