I came back yesterday from Wrangling with Writing, a 3-day writing conference in Tucson, AZ put on by the Society of Southwestern Authors. I got a full ride for the conference (hotel and meals too) on the virtue of penning a variation of this Why I Write essay for their scholarship contest. Of course, the real reason why I write is because I’m so fond of the closing parenthesis mark (the open-parens glyph is too glib for me), but it was fun to be in the company of so many writers.
Because I write such a fruit salad of stuff, my workshops were all over the place, from short-story essences, to how to pitch agents to mastering point of view to “all about ebooks” and more. There were a couple of entertaining keynotes, including one where Stephanie Elizondo Griest essentially did a slam poetry reading, including dancing out her book excerpts with bossa nova moves and other vocal and visual atmospherics. (I checked her site and it says she studied “tribal gypsy belly dance” for six years, which is undoubtedly helpful for contract negotiations.)
Hey, Faulkner Used the Juice Too
I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out a bit with Chuck Sambuchino, an author and the editor of the Guide to Literary Agents, and someone I’ve written for in the past. It was also jolly to meet another of his writers, Ricki Schultz, who demonstrated how to drink a cocktail on her birthday. (Sadly, there were no lampshades involved.) Writers do like to take a drink now and then (mostly now), which is probably why a couple of the guys seemed to want to show their dangling participles to a few of the fetching agents and attendees. I don’t think there are any lasting psychological scars, though.
Besides making some helpful contacts, I came away from the conference with new angles on and motivations toward editing—and then submitting—some material I’ve been sitting on for a while, as well as a nice feeling of writerly collegiality, but then again, it may have been the martinis. Here’s a good list of writing conferences from around the country. Check ’em out—it might only take you submitting an essay to nab an invitation. I think “How I Used Tribal Gypsy Belly Dance to Elude Freaks at the Bar” might be a good topic.