Tuesday, August 05, 2008

We're back in Spokane after spending three very intense days at the Willamette Writers' Conference in Portland, my first. Whew! Imagine some 300 writers gathered to pitch their work to agents and publishing houses, as well as much talk about craft over lunches, in hallways, and between workshops.

I felt like a sponge, most inspired by Elizabeth Lyon, gifted teacher and author of Manuscript Makeover, among other writerly works; Jessica Morrell, another compelling writer for writers; Stella Pope Duarte, pushed to write by a prophetic dream, and author of If I Die in Juarez, and Bharti Kirchener, author of Shiva Dancing and Darjeeling. Mark Schorr expanded my sense of the criminal personality, and Greg Kompes introduced new ways of working online.

Following echoes of "I already heard that pitch," I met Ellie Gunn, an Oregon writer who just happens to be working on a novel about the Scottish clearances (set in 1813 and along the southeastern coast of Scotland). We may be sisters-of-the-written-page, writing just a few hundred miles apart figuratively and literally.

And now we're home again, 90 degree weather this week. I have new books to read, mountains of ideas to think about, and lots of writing ahead. Yet, would I go again? Yes. For this once, the conference brought together writers, agents, publishers, practitioners of craft, film-makers, motivational speakers. All of this was a fine balance to working each morning alone.

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