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I’m so inspired! A few days ago I spent a lot of time with young people who are interested in writing and their mentors. At the Capitol City Writers Conference in Marin just north of San Francisco, I joined Peter Beagle, Jane Friedman, David Corbett, and Seth Harwood among others. Verna Dreisbach, the founder of Capitol City Writers, has developed her nonprofit organization and this conference to support and inspire young writers to take seriously their ideas, their writing, and their dreams about being writers.

Jane Friedman’s energizing workshop
After teaching my memoir group, I battled traffic and got to the conference in time to tuck into the workshop by Jane Friedman, the publisher and editorial director of F+W media and the Writer’s Digest Community as soon as I arrived. Throughout the year, I listen to a lot of authors, writers, teachers, and publishers talk about the current state of writing and publishing, too often hearing something like: “Sure, go ahead and write, but don’t get your hopes up. Publishing is in a transition, and it’s hard to know what will happen. There’s so much competition that you shouldn’t count on anyone accepting your work, but you can write if you want. Have fun!”

Jane’s message is very different. The summary of what I heard was this: “All of you are creative and there are so many ways to participate in the ongoing conversation in the world. Technology has expanded so that we can draw upon all these new ways to connect—from traditional publishing to blogs, social networks, radio, webinars, ebooks, podcasting and so on. Just write, get your work out there in every way you can. Over time the energy will build and you will make new connections, find new opportunities to publish, and create new ideas. It’s ongoing and creative. Join in and express yourself.”

After listening to her explain the current state of publishing, writing, and connecting, you could feel a lively energy buzz around the room, and uplifting of creativity, a juicy excitement about what we are all doing. Everyone knows that we work better in an atmosphere of support and optimism, so the seeds were planted there for the young people in the audience as well as us adults—to keep writing, creating, and connecting!

The young girls who spoke in the workshops knew so much about writing and literature—I was really impressed. They were writing stories, checking out ebooks and blogs, and were tuned into the online community of newsletters and social networks. It all is so natural to them, they’ve grown up with computer since babyhood. The rest of us are catching up!

In my work with memoirists, it’s important to work on several levels at once: writing—creating new material that comes from somewhere inside us. Re-shaping and revisioning—looking again at our work, seeing it anew, which is what revision means. Being open to continue the creative process in a new way. And sharing our work with the world, when we’re ready, and when we’ve taken the work to fullness and completion.
In the meantime, we need to find our writing tribe, whether in “real” groups face to face, online, or in the social networking and blogosphere where thousands, perhaps millions of writers from all over the world are making new friends.
I have to go now. I need to post on Facebook, Twitter, check my other blogs, check in on the Writer’s Digest Community which I recently joined, and…oh, I’d like to get some writing done on my book too!
Keep writing! Everything you write makes you a better writer.

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