I went to a writing conference over the weekend where I attended workshops and caught up with writing friends and sold books. Here I am in the bookstore with Weam, a prolific Iraqi American writer. We had fun.
I attended my first writing conference in the 1980s so I don’t go anymore so much for the craft or marketing workshops. I don’t even go to sell my books, although that happens, and it’s nice. My real purpose in attending conferences these days is to reconnect with my writing friends.
Writers spend a lot of time alone in a room with a keyboard taming our overflowing imaginations. Or trying to put the chaos into order. Or trying to make the order in our heads less chaotic on the page. It’s fun but it can be lonely which is why we need conferences.
Here I am with bestie Vernie…we saw each other at the conference all day Saturday and then all day yesterday at our critique group. We could probably spend the day today together too and not get tired of each other.
I met new people too, like Lisa Peers who did a great workshop. I learned a few things from her about how to make a workshop fun and interactive and dynamic. I have my own workshop coming up in July so I’ll for sure be using Lisa’s basic idea of chunking the 90 minutes into a nice mix of mini-sessions: mixing up writing exercises with partner work and sharing our spontaneous gems. I won’t be doing improv–Peers’ forte. Her background is in theater and mine is in…writing. But I have always liked the idea of a highly interactive learning setting, and she modeled that admirably.
Then we had our keynote speaker, ML Libeler, poet laureate of Detroit. We had a nice chat about his band and his spoken word show which I caught down at Alvin’s in the 80s and which, Libeler told me, you can still see on YouTube. I’ll leave you with that, but not before I say, yes, you’re a writer. Yes, you need time alone to write. Lots of it. But come up for air once in awhile. Go to a conference or a poetry reading or a workshop. Because you can always learn something, but more important, gotta have friends.