Saturday, March 1, 2008

Today's Report from the Whidbey Island Writers Conference

Day 2. Today was filled with exciting opportunities to learn from folks who do the business of writing every day. First, I enjoyed a lively, at times hilarious, and often goosebump-inducing story performed by a real, live, indigenous Yu'pik Eskimo storyteller named Jack Dalton. Funny and dramatic at all the right moments, he entertained and inspired. Storytelling looks like it takes a lot of practice and enormous talent to do well, and he did. Jack made me feel like he was speaking straight to my heart; he made me feel like my writing talent has been given to me so that I can express my ideas to others, because who knows, maybe I, too, will actually save a life with my words, like he did. In his case, it was a six-foot-eight-inch Maori from New Zealand. I doubt that will be my experience--but who knows? Anything can happen.

Next, I took a seminar on incorporating screenplay writing tricks into fiction writing, given by Randy Sue Coburn. She is a kind, warm, smart, accomplished and way cool chick, who wrote the screenplay Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, as well as the novel Owl Island, which I purchased and asked her to sign for me.

In the second of my series of dorky encounters with authors, I was chit-chatting with Randy Sue while she was signing my book, and when I said the word experience, it was unfortunately accompanied by a few droplets of my very own saliva, which landed on the table between she and me. I know she saw this and while I said oh! excuse me, she just kept smiling and signing.

I was two for two. I greatly feared the next author book-signing, but did not allow that fear (thank you Eleanor Roosevelt) to stop me from purchasing ten or twelve books and rallying myself to have them signed without making an ass of myself again.

I then participated in a writing seminar with the lovely and wonderful Deborah Madison, author of The Greens Cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, (a recipe from which you have seen here), Local Flavors, Vegetarian Suppers, and about a hundred other cookbooks and magazine articles. We spent 90 minutes writing about our lives as seen through the lens of food, and it was fascinating! The topics:

Write about your mother's food. Ten minutes. Go!
Write about your father's food. Ten minutes. Go!
Write about food you have stolen. Ten minutes. Go!
Write about what you have when you are eating alone.

You might want to try these exercises yourself. They were incredibly insightful, and everyone's were interesting. Deborah Madison is someone I would like to have for a mother-in-law. She is awesome.

A woman in the class wrote very well. As she read her pieces, I thought, "wow, she is a really good writer." At the end of the class, I saw her name tag: Stephanie Kallos, author of last year's popular novel Broken For You.

She and I talked after the class and she was really, really, really nice and gracious and I managed to have an interaction with her completely devoid of dorkiness. Whew. She wrote a very nice inscription in my copy of her book.

My last session was with Michele Scott, who, after about 200 rejection letters, landed a three-book deal for wine-themed murder mysteries. I kid you not. Talk about a niche! She was really nice and full of information and told me to email her if I ever needed inspiration.

After a long day of writing classes and shmoozing with the authors, I was beat. And, as is often the case, I wanted a nice frosty beverage to make it all go away facilitate the creative process. I drove through this impossibly precious (nod to Melanie at BeanPaste) waterfront town we're in, to the imposing old tavern, complete with wooden swinging doors, a la Gunsmoke. I moseyed up to the bar, ordered a beer, and made an instant friend with the only other barfly, a woman from Montana who was also doing the writers conference. She invited me to tag along to dinner, where she was meeting another creative and fun, very cool (and beautiful) woman from Vancouver BC. The three of us had dinner, drank wine, and talked about writing. And that's all we talked about. I don't even know their last names. It was all about the writing.

And it was a perfect day.


Anonymous said...

Embrace every second, and may the time pass oh so slowly :)

Mary Alice said...

That sounds divine. I just had a big sigh of contentment for you.

Anonymous said...

Hey SO COOL! And, PS you are NOT a dork. It's perfect, and human and I love those interaction recaps. The writers probably love coming to the conference because all of the awkward small talk moments are ripe for material. I loved Broken For You. Maybe by the time I can make it to the writers conference you will be there and you can sign my copy of YOUR book. I will probably drool on your table. xo